Geographical information system (GIS) techniques were used to investigate the spatial association between metallic mineral sites and lithodiversity in Nevada. Mineral site data sets include various size and type subsets of about 5,500 metal-bearing occurrences and deposits. Lithodiversity was calculated by counting the number of unique geological map units within four sizes of square-shaped sample neighborhoods (2.5-by-2.5, 5-by-5, 10-by-10, and 20-by-20 km) on three different scales of geological maps (national, 1:2,500,000; state, 1:500,000; county, 1:250,000). The spatial association between mineral sites and lithodiversity was observed to increase with increasing lithodiversity. This relationship is consistent for (1) both basin-range and range-only regions, (2) four sizes of sample neighborhoods, (3) various mineral site subsets, (4) the three scales of geological maps, and (5) areas not covered by large-scale maps. A map scale of 1:500,000 and lithodiversity sampling neighborhood of 5-by-5 km was determined to best describe the association. Positive associations occurred for areas having >3 geological map units per neighborhood, with the strongest observed at approximately >7 units. Areas in Nevada with more than three geological map units per 5-by-5 km neighborhood contain more mineral sites than would be expected resulting from chance. High lithodiversity likely reflects the occurrence of complex structural, stratigraphic, and intrusive relationships that are thought to control, focus, localize, or expose mineralization. The application of lithodiversity measurements to areas that are not well explored may help delineate regional-scale exploration targets and provide GIS-supported mineral resource assessment and exploration activity another method that makes use of widely available geological map data. ?? 2001 International Association for Mathematical Geology.
Additional publication details
Lithodiversity and its spatial association with metallic mineral sites, Great Basin of Nevada