Banded, epithermal quartz-adularia veins have produced about 1.5 million ounces of gold and 7 million ounces of silver from the Bodie mining district, eastern California. The veins cut dacitic lava flows, pyroclastic rocks and intrusions. Sinter boulders occur in a graben structure at the top of Bodie Bluff and fragments of sinter and mineralized quartz veins occur in hydrothermal breccias nearby. Explosive venting evidently was part of the evolution of the ore-forming geothermal systems which, at one time, must had reached the paleosurface. Previous reconnaissance studies at Bodie Bluff suggested that the geometry of alteration mineral assemblages and distribution of some of the major and trace elements throughout the system correspond to those predicted by models of hot-spring, volcanic rock hosted precious metal deposits (Silberman, 1982; Silberman and Berger, 1985). The current study was undertaken to evaluate these sugestions further. About 500 samples of quartz veins and altered rocks, including sinter, collected over a vertical extent of 200 meters within Bodie Bluff were petrographically examined and chemically analyzed for trace elements by emission spectrographic and atomic absorption methods. Sixty-five samples were analyzed for major elements by X-ray fluorescence methods. The results of these analyses showed that, in general, alteration mineral assemblage and vertical geochemical zoning patterns follow those predicted for hot-spring deposits, but that geochemical zoning patterns for sinter and quartz veins (siliceous deposits), and altered wall rocks are not always similar. The predicted depth-concentration patterns for some elements, notably Au, Ag, Hg, and Tl in quartz veins, and Hg, As and Ag in wall rocks were not as expected, or were perturbed by the main ore producing zone. For both quartz veins and altered wall rocks, the main ore zone had elevated metal contents. Increased concentration of many of these elements could indicate proximity to this zone. However, irregularities in the distribution of some key elements, such as Au and Ag, relative to the predictive models suggest that a larger suite of elements be considered for exploration for ore zones within the district. ?? 1993.
Additional publication details
Alteration and geochemical zoning in Bodie Bluff, Bodie mining district, eastern California