The Genesis and Blue Star sedimentary rock-hosted gold deposits occur within the 40-mile-long Carlin trend and are located in Eureka County, Nevada. The deposits are hosted within the Devonian calcareous Popovich Formation, the siliciclastic Rodeo Creek unit and the siliciclastic Vinini Formation. The host rocks have undergone contact metamorphism, decalcification, silicification, argillization, and supergene oxidation. Detailed characterization of the alteration patterns, mineralogy, modes of occurrence, and associated geochemistry of clay minerals resulted in the following classifications: least altered rocks, found distal to the orebody, consisting of both metamorphosed and unmetamorphosed host rock that has not been completely decalcified; and altered rocks, found proximal to the orebody that have been decalcified. Altered rocks are classified further into the following groups based on clay mineral content: silicic, 1 to 10 percent clay; silicicargillic, 10 to 35 percent clay; and argillic, 35 to 80 percent clay. Clay species identified are 1M illite, 2M1 illite, kaolinite, halloysite, and dioctahedral smectite. An early hydrothermal event resulted in the precipitation of euhedral kaolinite and at least one generation of silica. This event occurred contemporaneously with decalcification which increased rock permeability and porosity. A second clay alteration event resulted in the precipitation of hydrothermal 1M illite which replaced hydrothermal kaolinite and is associated with gold deposition. Silver and silica deposition is also associated with this phase of hydrothermal alteration. Hydrothermal alteration was followed by supergene alteration which resulted in the formation of supergene kaolinite, halloysite, and smectite as well as the oxidation of iron-bearing minerals. Supergene clays are concentrated along faults, dike margins, and within rocks containing carbonate. Gold mineralization is not associated with supergene clay minerals within the Genesis and Blue Star deposits. Rocks classified as silicic-argillic in the Popovich Formation represent the most significant gold host. Silicicargillic rocks commonly exhibit bedding-parallel alteration zones. This pattern of alteration indicates that stratigraphy as well as northwest-trending structures played a significant role in the migration of gold-bearing fluids. Based on K-Ar age determinations of hydrothermal 1M illite associated with gold, the main event of mineralization in the Genesis and Blue Star deposits occurred between 93 and 100 Ma, during mid-Cretaceous time.
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Clay alteration and gold deposition in the genesis and blue star deposits, Eureka County, Nevada