Lead isotope compositions as guides to early gold mineralization: The North Amethyst vein system, Creede district, Colorado
- Nora K. Foley and Robert A. Ayuso
The North Amethyst vein system, which is hosted by approximately 27 Ma Carpenter Ridge Tuff and approximately 26 Ma Nelson Mountain Tuff, has two mineral associations separated by brecciation and sedimentation in the veins. The early association consists of quartz, rhodonite, hematite, magnetite, electrum (Au (sub 0.3-0.5) Ag (sub 0.7-0.5)) , and Mn carbonate, Au-Ag sulfide, Ag sulfosalt, and base metal sulfide minerals. The later mineral association cuts the Mn- and Au-bearing assemblages and consists of quartz, calcite, sericite, chlorite, hematite, adularia, fluorite, base metal sulfides, and Ag-bearing tetrahedrite.
Our detailed studies show that the Pb isotope compositions of paragenetically early galenas associated with Au-rich mineralization in the North Amethyst vein system are relatively unradiogenic ( 206 Pb/ 204 Pb: 18.826-18.881, 207 Pb/ 204 Pb: 15.588-15.602, and 208 Pb/ 204 Pb: 37.790-37.926) compared to Pb isotope compositions of galenas formed later at about 25 Ma during Ag and base metal mineralization ( 206 Pb/ 204 Pb: 19.041-19.115, 207 Pb/ 204 Pb: 15.627- 15.672, and 208 Pb/ 204 Pb: 37.829-38.057). New Pb isotope data for the central and southern parts of the Creede district, which are located 5 to 7 km south of the North Amethyst area, agree with the results of a regional study by Doe et al. (1979) that included five samples from the main part of the Creede district. Galenas and adularia from the central and southern Creede district and galenas from the Bondholder district, 7 km north of the North Amethyst area, are similar to the Pb isotope compositions of galenas formed later in the North Amethyst area during Ag and base metal mineralization. Galenas from the Alpha-Corsair vein, which was mined for Ag prior to 1910, are isotopically similar to galenas associated with North Amethyst Au-stage mineralization. This isotopic similarity suggests that unexplored segments of the Alpha-Corsair structure may have the same mineralogy as the North Amethyst Au stage; thus, the Alpha-Corsair structure has the potential for high gold contents.
Pb isotope compositions from the late stage of the North Amethyst vein system and from the Bondholder and central and southern Creede mining districts are more radiogenic than the host volcanic rocks of the central cluster of the San Juan volcanic field. Our Pb isotope results indicate that early Au mineralization of the North Amethyst area may represent the product of an older and relatively local hydrothermal system distinct from that of the younger base metal and Ag mineralization found throughout the region. Fluids that deposited Au minerals may have derived their Pb isotope composition by a greater degree of interaction with shallow, relatively less radiogenic volcanic wall rocks. The younger, base metal and Ag-rich mineralization that overprints the Au mineralization in the North Amethyst area clearly has a more radiogenic isotopic signature, which implies that the later mineralization derived a greater component of its Pb from Proterozoic source rocks, or sediments derived from them.Paragenetically early sulfide-rich vein assemblages have the least radiogenic galenas and generally also have the highest Au contents. Thus, identification of paragenetically early vein assemblages with relatively unradiogenic Pb isotope compositions similar to those of the North Amethyst area provides an additional exploration tool for Au in the central San Juan Mountains area.
Additional publication details
- Publication type:
- Publication Subtype:
- Journal Article
- Lead isotope compositions as guides to early gold mineralization: The North Amethyst vein system, Creede district, Colorado
- Series title:
- Economic Geology
- Year Published:
- Society of Economic Geologists, Inc.
- 18 p.
- First page:
- Last page:
- United States
- Other Geospatial:
- Creede district
- Online Only (Y/N):
- Additional Online Files (Y/N):