The northern margin of the Helena Embayment contains extensive syngenetic to diagenetic massive pyrite horizons that extend over 25 km along the Volcano Valley-Buttress fault zone and extend up to 8 km basinward (south) within the Mesoproterozoic Newland Formation. The Sheep Creek Cu-Co deposit occurs within a structural block along a bend in the fault system, where replacement-style chalcopyrite mineralization is spatially associated mostly with the two stratigraphically lowest massive pyrite zones. These mineralized pyritic horizons are intercalated with debris flows derived from synsedimentary movement along the Volcano Valley-Buttress fault zone. Cominco American Inc. delineated a geologic resource of 4.5 Mt at 2.5% Cu and 0.1% Co in the upper sulfide zone and 4 Mt at 4% Cu within the lower sulfide zone. More recently, Tintina Resources Inc. has delineated an inferred resource of 8.48 Mt at 2.96% Cu, 0.12% Co, and 16.4 g/t Ag in the upper sulfide zone. The more intact upper sulfide zone displays significant thickness variations along strike thought to represent formation in at least three separate subbasins. The largest accumulation of mineralized sulfide in the upper zone occurs as an N-S–trending body that thickens southward from the generally E trending Volcano Valley Fault and probably occupies a paleograben controlled by normal faults in the hanging wall of the Volcano Valley Fault. Early microcrystalline to framboidal pyrite was accompanied by abundant and local barite deposition in the upper and lower sulfide zones, respectively. The sulfide bodies underwent intense (lower sulfide zone) to localized (upper sulfide zone) recrystallization and overprinting by coarser-grained pyrite and minor marcasite that is intergrown with and replaces dolomite. Silicification and paragenetically late chalcopyrite, along with minor tennantite in the upper sulfide zone, replaces fine-grained pyrite, barite, and carbonate. The restriction of chalcopyrite to inferred synsedimentary E- and northerly trending faults and absence of definitive zonation with respect to the Laramide Volcano Valley Fault in the lower sulfide zone suggest a diagenetic age related to basin development for the Sheep Creek Cu-Co-Ag deposit.
Additional publication details
Geologic setting, sedimentary architecture, and paragenesis of the Mesoproterozoic sediment-hosted Sheep Creek Cu-Co-Ag deposit, Helena embayment, Montana
Society of Economic Geologists
Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center