It is important to know whether major mining districts in north-central Nevada are underlain by crust of the Archean Wyoming craton, known to contain major orogenic gold deposits or, alternatively, by accreted crust of the Paleoproterozoic Mojave province. Determining the location and orientation of the Archean-Proterozoic suture zone between these provinces is also important because it may influence subsequent patterns of sedimentation, deformation, magmatism, and hydrothermal activity. The suture zone is exposed in northeastern Utah and south-western Wyoming and exhibits a southwest strike. In the Great Basin, the suture zone strike is poorly constrained because it is largely concealed below a Neoproterozoic-Paleozoic miogeocline and Cenozoic basin fill. Two-dimensional resistivity modeling of three regional north-south magnetotelluric sounding profiles in western Utah, north-central Nevada, and northeastern Nevada, and one east-west profile in northeastern Nevada, reveals a deeply penetrating (>10 km depth), broad (tens of kilometers) conductor (1-20 ohm-meters) that may be the Archean-Proterozoic suture zone, which formed during Early Proterozoic rifting of the continent and subsequent Proterozoic accretion. This major crustal conductor changes strike direction from southwest in Utah to northwest in eastern Nevada, where it broadens to ???100 km width that correlates with early Paleozoic rifting of the continent. Our results suggest that the major gold belts may be over-isolated blocks of Archean crust, so Phanerozoic mineral deposits in this region may be produced, at least in part, from recycled Archean gold. Future mineral exploration to the east may yield large gold tonnages. ?? 2008 Geological Society of America.
Additional publication details
Tracking the Archean-Proterozoic suture zone in the northeastern Great Basin, Nevada and Utah