Cinnabar- and stibnite-bearing epithermal vein deposits are found throughout the Kuskokwim River region of southwestern Alaska. A geochemical orientation survey was carried out around several of these epithermal lodes to obtain information for planning regional geochemical surveys and to develop procedures which maximize the anomaly: threshold contrast of the deposits. Stream sediment, heavy-mineral concentrate, stream water, and vegetation samples were collected in drainages surrounding the Red Devil, Cinnabar Creek, White Mountain, Rhyolite, and Mountain Top deposits. Three sediment size fractions; nonmagnetic, paramagnetic and magnetic splits of the concentrate samples; stream waters; and the vegetation samples were analyzed for multi-element suites by a number of different chemical procedures. Nonmagnetic, heavy-mineral concentrates were also examined microscopically to identify their mineralogy. Results confirm Hg, Sb and As concentrations in minus-80-mesh stream sediments as effective pathfinder elements in exploration for epithermal cinnabar and stibnite deposits. Coarser-grained sediments are much less effective in the exploration for these deposits. Concentrations greater than 3 ppm Hg, 1 ppm Sb, and 15 ppm As in the minus-80-mesh stream sediment, regardless of the host lithology, are indicative of upstream cinnabar-stibnite deposits. Gold, Ag and base metals in the stream sediments are ineffective pathfinders for this epithermal deposit type. Collection of heavy-mineral concentrates provides little advantage in the exploration for these mineral deposits. Antimony and As dispersion patterns downstream from mineralized areas are generally more restricted in the concentrates than those in the stream sediments. Anomalous placer cinnabar observed in the concentrates has a similar spatial distribution pattern as anomalous Hg and Sb in corresponding sediments. Stream waters are less effective than the stream sediments or heavy-mineral concentrates, and vegetation is an ineffective geochemical sample medium in exploration for this deposit type. ?? 1991.
Additional publication details
Geochemistry and exploration criteria for epithermal cinnabar and stibnite vein deposits in the Kuskokwim River region, southwestern Alaska