The assessment of spatial relationships between the location, abundance and size of orogenic-gold deposits in the highly endowed Sierra Foothills gold province in California, via the combination of field studies and a GIS-based analysis, illustrates the power of such an approach to the characterisation of important parameters of mineral systems, and the prediction of districts likely to host economic mineralisation. Regional- to deposit-scale reconnaissance mapping suggests that deposition of gold-bearing quartz veins occurred in second- and third-order, east-over-west thrusts during regional east - west compression and right-lateral transpression. At the district-scale, significant zones of mineralisation correspond with such transpressional reactivation zones and dilational jogs that developed during the Late Jurassic - Early Cretaceous along the misaligned segments of first-order faults throughout the Sierra Nevada Foothills Metamorphic Belt. Field-based observations and interpretation of GIS data (including solid geology, structural elements, deposit locations, magnetics, gravity) also highlight the importance of structural permeability contrasts, rheological gradients, and variations in fault orientation for localising mineralisation. Although this approach confirms empirical findings and produces promising results at the province scale, enhanced geological, structural, geophysical and geochronological data density is required to generate regionally consistent, high-quality input layers that improve predictive targeting at the goldfield to deposit-scale.
Additional publication details
Controls on mineralisation in the Sierra Foothills gold province, central California, USA: A GIS-based reconnaissance prospectivity analysis