Igneous activity and related ore deposits in the western and southern Tushar Mountains, Marysvale volcanic field, west-central Utah

Professional Paper 1299-A,B




PART A: Igneous activity in the Marysvale volcanic field of western Utah can be separated into many episodes of extrusion, intrusion, and hydrothermal activity. The rocks of the western Tushar Mountains, near the western part of the volcanic field, include intermediate-composition, calc-alkalic volcanic rocks erupted from scattered volcanoes in Oligocene through earliest Miocene time and related monzonitic intrusions emplaced 24-23 m.y. ago. Beginning 22-21 m.y. ago and extending through much of the later Cenozoic, a bimodal basalt-rhyolite assemblage was erupted widely throughout the volcanic field. Only volcanic and intrusive rocks belonging to the rhyolitic end member of this bimodal assemblage are present in the western Tushar Mountains; most of these rocks either fill the Mount Belknap caldera (19 m.y. old) or are part of the rhyolite of Gillies Hill (9---8 m.y. old). Episodic hydrothermal activity altered and mineralized rocks at many places in the western Tushar Mountains during Miocene time. The earliest activity took place in and adjacent to monzonitic calcalkalic intrusions emplaced in the vicinity of Indian Creek and Cork Ridge. These rocks were widely propylitized, and gold-bearing quartz-pyrite-carbonate veins formed in local fractures. Hydrothermal activity associated with the Mount Belknap caldera mobilized and redeposited uranium contained in the caldera-fill rocks and formed primary concentrations of lithophile elements (including molybdenum and uranium) in the vicinity of intrusive bodies. Hydrothermal activity associated with the rhyolite of Gillies Hill altered and mineralized rocks at several places along the fault zone that marks the western margin of the Tushar Mountains; the zoned alunite and gold deposits at Sheep Rock, the gold deposit at the Sunday Mine, and an alunite deposit near Indian Creek were thus produced. Resetting of isotopic ages suggests that another center of hydrothermally altered rocks associated with a buried pluton about 16 m.y. old may exist near Indian Creek just west of the Mount Belknap caldera. Geophysical evidence confirms the probability of a buried pluton near Indian Creek, and also indicates that another buried pluton probably exists beneath the 9-m.y.-old mineralized area at Sheep Rock. The mineral potential of the different hydrothermal systems, and the types of minerals deposited probably vary considerably from one period of mineralization to another and from one depth environment to another within a given system. PART B: The Big John caldera, on the western flank of the Tushar Mountains in the Marysvale volcanic field in west-central Utah, formed 23-22 m.y. ago in response to ash-flow eruptions of the Delano Peak Tuff Member of the Bullion Canyon Volcanics. These eruptions were near the end of the period of Oligocene-early Miocene calc-alkalic igneous activity that built a broad volcanic plateau in this part of Utah. About 22 m.y. ago, the composition of rocks erupted changed to a bimodal assemblage of mafic and silicic volcanics that was erupted episodically through the remainder of Cenozoic time. The alkali rhyolites are uranium rich in part, and are associated with all the known uranium deposits in the Marysvale volcanic field. The Big John caldera was a broad drained basin whose floor was covered by a layer of stream gravels when ash flows from the western source area of the Mount Belknap Volcanics filled the caldera with the Joe Lott Tuff Member about 19 m.y. ago. Devitrified and zeolitized rocks in the caldera fill have lost one-quarter to one-half of the uranium contained in the original magma. This mobilized uranium probably moved into the hydrologic regime, and some may have been redeposited in stream gravels underlying the Joe Lott within the caldera, or in gravels filling the original drainage channel that extended south from the caldera.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Igneous activity and related ore deposits in the western and southern Tushar Mountains, Marysvale volcanic field, west-central Utah
Series title:
Professional Paper
Series number:
Supercedes OFR 82-479 and OFR 79-527
Year Published:
33 p.