The Cu-Co-Au deposits of the Idaho Cobalt Belt are in lithostratigraphic zones of the Middle Proterozoic Yellowjacket Formation characterized by distinctive chemical and mineralogical compositions including high concentrations of Fe (15- > 30 wt. percent Fe2O3), Cl (0.1-1.10 wt. percent), and magnetite or biotite (> 50 vol. percent). The Cu-Co-Au deposits of the Blackbird mine are stratabound in Fe-silicate facies rocks that are rich in biotite, Fe, and Cl, but stratigraphically equivalent rocks farther than 10 km from ore deposits have similar compositions. A lower lithostratigraphic zone containing magnetite and small Cu-Co-Au deposits extends for more than 40 km. The Fe-rich strata are probably exhalative units related to mafic volcanism and submarine hot springs, but the origin of the high Cl concentrations is less clear. Former chlorine-rich pore fluids are suggested by the presence of supersaline fluid inclusions, by Cl-rich biotite and scapolite (as much as 1.87 percent Cl in Fe-rich biotite), and by high Cl concentrations in rock samples. Chlorine is enriched in specific strata and in zones characterized by soft-sediment deformation, thus probably was introduced during sedimentation or diagenesis. Unlike some metasedimentary rocks containing scapolite and high Cl, the Yellowjacket Formation lacks evidence for evaporitic strata that could have been a source of Cl. More likely, the Cl reflects a submarine brine that carried Fe, K, and base metals. Strata containing anomalous Fe-K-Cl are considered to be a guide to sub-basins favorable for the occurrence of stratiform base-metal deposits. ?? 1993 Springer-Verlag.