The Pacific Border Ranges of the southern Alaskan Cordillera are composed of a number of allochthonous tectonostratigraphic terranes. Within these terranes are widespread volcanogenic, massive sulfide deposits in and adjacent to portions of accreted ophiolite complexes, bands and disseminations of chromite in accreted island-arc ultramafic rocks, and epigenetic, gold-bearing quartz veins in metamorphosed turbidite sequences. A geochemical pilot study was undertaken to determine the most efficient exploration strategy for locating these types of mineral deposits within the Pacific Border Ranges and other typical convergent continental margin environments. High-density sediment sampling was carried out in first- and second-order stream channels surrounding typical gold, chromite and massive sulfide occurrences. At each site, a stream-sediment and a panned-concentrate sample were collected. In the laboratory, the stream sediments were sieved into coarse-sand, fine- to medium-sand, and silt- to clay-size fractions prior to analysis. One split of the panned concentrates was retained for analysis; a second split was further concentrated by gravity separation in heavy liquids and then divided into magnetic, weakly magnetic and nonmagnetic fractions for analysis. A number of different techniques including atomic absorption spectrometry, inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry and semi-quantitative emission spectrography were used to analyze the various sample media. Comparison of the various types of sample media shows that in this tectonic environment it is most efficient to include a silt- to clay-size sediment fraction and a panned-concentrate sample. Even with the relatively low detection limits for many elements by plasma spectrometry and atomic absorption spectrometry, anomalies reflecting the presence of gold veins could not be identified in any of the stream-sediment fractions. Unseparated panned-concentrate samples should be analyzed by emission spectroscopy and atomic absorption spectrometry for Ag and Au. If, however, magnetic and nonmagnetic concentrate fractions are used in a reconnaissance program, semiquantitative emission spectrography is adequate for all analytical work. ?? 1990.
Additional publication details
A comparison of geochemical exploration techniques and sample media within accretionary continental margins: an example from the Pacific Border Ranges, Southern Alaska, U.S.A.