The hydrogen isotopic composition of fluids responsible for formation of the near-surface silver-base metal vein deposits at Creede was measured by direct analysis of inclusion fluids in sphalerite, quartz, and rhodochrosite and was estimated from analyses of illite and chlorite. The oxygen isotopic composition was determined directly on inclusion fluids in sphalerite and was estimated from analyses of quartz, illite, rhodochrosite, siderite, and adularia. The carbon isotopic composition was estimated from analyses of rhodochrosite and siderite. The ranges in isotopic composition for water and CO2 in the fluids associated with the formation of each of the minerals is given below (number of determinations given in parentheses):Mineral delta D (sub H2) O ppm delta 18 O (sub H2) O ppm delta 13 C (sub CO2) ppmSphalerite -81 to -54 (4) -10.1 to -4.5 (4)Quartz -97 to -86 (4) -5.9 to 1.8 (18)Illite -62 to -50 (8) -1.6 to 1.2(7)Chlorite -64 to -55 (10) -2.2 to 0.8 (10)Adularia 4.2 (1)Rhodochrosite -82 to -78 (2) 4.2 to 9.4 (9) -5.7 to -4.2 (9)Siderite 4.9 to 9.9 (6) -6.9 to -2.7 (6)The delta D (sub H2) O and delta 18 O (sub H2) O values of fluids associated with the formation of sphalerite, quartz, illite/chlorite, and carbonate minerals differ substantially from one another, and these differences appear to have been maintained throughout the depositional history, regardless of the positions of the minerals in the paragenetic sequence.The data suggest that waters from three coexisting reservoirs fed the vein system alternately and episodically during vein formation, and apparently there was little mixing of the fluids from the different reservoirs. The hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon isotope data suggest that the carbonate waters were deep seated, probably dominantly magmatic, in origin. The sphalerite and illite/chlorite waters must have been dominantly meteoric in origin and substantially oxygen shifted by exchange with the volcanic country rocks. The quartz waters were also oxygen shifted meteoric waters but were some 40 per mil lower in deuterium content than the sphalerite and illite/chlorite waters.We propose that the quartz fluids entered the vein system from reservoirs beneath the mountainous areas to the north in the vicinity of the present Continental Divide, but that the sphalerite and illite/chlorite fluids entered the vein system from a topographically low area to the south along the structural moat of the Creede caldera. The difference in delta D between the two meteoric waters may reflect differences in altitude of the recharge areas for the two reservoirs or may be clue to isotopic evolution of the closed-basin lake and interstitial waters in the moat surrounding the Creede caldera.
Additional publication details
Environment of ore deposition in the Creede mining district, San Juan Mountains, Colorado; Part IV, source of fluids, from oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon isotope studies