The partial to total resetting of fission-track ages of minerals in country rock near a mineralized area can be used to (1) locate a thermal anomaly, and (2) date the mineralizing event. Two mining districts in Colorado have been studied - Rico and Gilman. Rico is a precious- and base-metal mining district. Initial fission-track dating of a sill located about 6 km from the center of the district gave ages of 20 Myr and 65 Myr for apatite and zircon, respectively. The Eagle Mine in the Gilman District is the largest producer of zinc in the state of Colorado. Fission-track dating of zircon from a 70 Myr-old sill shows partial resetting of the zircon (45 Myr). The thermal anomaly identified by fission-track dating is seen in both districts far outside the area affected by obvious alteration. Based on the results of these two pilot studies, fission-track dating can be a useful exploration method for thermal anomalies associated with buried or otherwise poorly expressed mineral deposits.
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Fission-track dating applied to mineral exploration