Geology and ore deposits of the Klondike Ridge area, Colorado

Open-File Report 60-145




The region described in this report is in the northeastern part of the Colorado Plateau and is transitional between two major structural elements. The western part is typical of the salt anticline region of the Plateau, but the eastern part has features which reflect movements in the nearby San Juan Mountains. There are five major structural elements in the report area: the Gypsum Valley anticline, Dry Creek Basin, the Horse Park fault block, Disappointment Valley, and the Dolores anticline. Three periods of major uplift are recognized In the southeastern end of the Gypsum Valley anticline. Each was followed by collapse of the overlying strata. Erosion after the first two periods removed nearly all topographic relief over the anticline; erosion after the last uplift has not yet had a profound effect on the topography except where evaporite beds are exposed at the surface. The first and greatest period of salt flow and anticlinal uplift began in the late Pennsylvanian and continued intermittently and on an ever decreasing scale into the Early Cretaceous. Most movement was in the Permian and Triassic periods. The second period of uplift and collapse was essentially contemporaneous with widespread tectonic activity on. the northwestern side of the San Juan Mountains and may have Occurred in the Oligocene and Miocene epochs. Granogabbro sills and dikes were intruded during the middle or upper Tertiary in Disappointment Valley and adjoining parts of the Gypsum Valley and Dolores anticlines. The third and mildest period of uplift occurred in the Pleistocene and was essentially contemporaneous with the post-Hinsdale uplift of the San Juan Mountains. This uplift began near the end of the earliest, or Cerro, stage of glaciation. Uranium-vanadium, manganese, and copper ore as well as gravel have been mined in the Klondike district. All deposits are small, and few have yielded more than 100 tons of ore. Most of the latter are carnotite deposits. Carnotite occurs in the lower part of the basal sandstone unit of the Salt Wash member of the Morrison formation. Most deposits are in a narrow, elongate mineral belt' that cuts obliquely across Klondike Ridge. The remaining deposits probably form a second 'mineral belt' lying about ? mile to the north. Manganese and copper deposits show both stratigraphic and structural controls of mineralization. Most manganese deposits are in red beds near Tertiary faults; most copper deposits, on the other hand, are in brown sandstone, limestone, or gray-green shale and, like manganese, are in or near Tertiary faults. The manganese and copper deposits are hydrothermal in origin and were formed in the roots of an ancient hot springs system, now deeply eroded. The ore-bearing solutions probably consisted of dilute, carbonate-sulfate ground water heated by the near-surface intrusion of small bodies of igneous rock. These solutions obtained their metals by leaching the wallrock; little, if any, material was added by the intrusives. The deposits were formed near the surface under conditions of hydrostatic pressure, and temperatures and pressures in the ore-bearing solutions were probably low. The early solutions were weakly alkaline and reducing in character. A convection cell was established as mineralization progressed, and surface water mingled at depth with the solutions. As a result of mixing and oxidation, the pH of the solution decreased in later stages of mineralization and the Eh rose.

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USGS Numbered Series
Geology and ore deposits of the Klondike Ridge area, Colorado
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey],
206 p. ill., maps ;27 cm.