Geochemical exploration in northern Wisconsin has been problematic because of thick glacial overburden and complex stratigraphic record of glacial history. To assess till geochemical exploration in an area of thick glacial cover and complex stratigraphy samples of glacial materials were collected from cores from five rotasonic boreholes near a known massive sulfide deposit, the Bend deposit in north-central Wisconsin. Diamond drilling in the Bend area has defined a long, thin zone of mineralization at least partly intersected at the bedrock surface beneath 30-40 m of unconsolidated glacial sediments. The bedrock surface has remnant regolith and saprolite resulting from pre-Pleistocene weathering. Massive sulfide and mineralized rock collected from diamond drill core from the deposit contain high (10s to 10,000s ppm) concentrations of Ag, As, Au, Bi, Cu, Hg, Se, Te, and Tl. Geochemical properties of the glacial stratigraphic units helped clarify the sequence and source areas of several glacial ice advances preserved in the section. At least two till sheets are recognized. Over the zone of mineralization, saprolite and preglacial alluvial and lacustrine samples are preserved on the bedrock surface in a paleoriver valley. The overlying till sheet is a gray, silty carbonate till with a source hundreds of kilometers to the northwest of the study area. This gray till is overlain by red, sandy till with a source to the north in Proterozoic rocks of the Lake Superior area. The complex glacial stratigraphy confounds down-ice geochemical till exploration. The presence of remnant saprolite, preglacial sediment, and far-traveled carbonate till minimized glacial erosion of mineralized material. As a result, little evidence of down-ice glacial dispersion of lithologic or mineralogic indicators of Bend massive sulfide mineralization was found in the samples from the rotasonic cores. This study points out the importance of determining glacial stratigraphy and history, and identifying favorable lithologies required for geochemical exploration. Drift prospecting in Wisconsin and other areas near the outer limits of the Pleistocene ice sheets may not be unsuccessful, in part, because of complex stratigraphic sequences of multiple glaciations where deposition dominates over erosion. ?? 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Geochemistry of glacial sediments in the area of the Bend massive sulfide deposit, north-central Wisconsin