Laminated to massive rhodochrosite, hausmannite, and Mn-silicates from the Smith prospect and Manga-Chrome mine, Sierra Nevada, California were deposited as ocean floor sediments associated with chert and shale. The principal lithologies at Smith are chert, argillite, rhodochrosite-, hausmannite- and chlorite-rich layers, and relatively uncommon layers of jacobsite. The Manga-Chrome mine also contains layers rich in manganoan calcite and caryopilite. Tephroite, rhodonite, spessartine, and accessory alleghanyite and sonolite formed during metamorphism. Volcaniclastic components are present at Manga-Chrome as metavolcanic clasts and as Mn-poor, red, garnet- and hematite-rich layers. There is no evidence, such as relict lithologies, that Mn was introduced into Mn-poor lithologies such as chert, limestone or mudstone. Replacement of Mn-poor phases by Mn-rich phases is observed only in the groundmass of volcanic clasts that appear to have fallen into soft Mn-rich mud. Manganiferous samples from the Smith prospect and Manga-Chrome mine have high Mn Fe and low concentrations of Ni, Cu, Zn, Co, U, Th and the rare-earth elements that are similar to concentrations reported from other ancient Mn deposits found in chert-greenstone complexes and from manganiferous sediments and crusts that are forming near modern sea floor vents. The Sierra Nevada deposits formed as precipitates of Mn-rich sediments on the sea floor, probably from mixtures of circulating hydrothermal fluids and seawater. The composition of a metabasalt from the Smith prospect is consistent with those of island-arc tholeiites. Metavolcanic clasts from the Manga-Chrome mine are compositionally distinct from the Smith metabasalt and have alkaline to calc-alkaline affinities. A back-arc basin is considered to be the most likely paleoenvironment for the formation of the Mn-rich lenses at the Manga-Chrome mine and, by association, the Smith prospect. Layers of rhodochrosite, hausmannite and chert preserve the composition and some textures of the sedimentary protoliths at both Sierra Nevada deposits. Jacobsite-rich layers probably represent a Fe-rich protolith. Caryopilite and manganoan calcite represent additional protoliths at the Manga-Chrome mine. The metamorphic assemblage prehnite-chlorite-epidote-calcite in a metabasalt from the Smith prospect constrains regional metamorphic conditions to a maximum temperature of 325??C and a pressure of 2 kbar. Slightly higher temperatures are indicated by the presence of actinolite in another metabasalt. Compositions of Mn-rich minerals in Smith samples are consistent with these metamorphic conditions. ?? 1992.