Beryl-bearing pegmatites in the Ruby Mountains and other areas in Nevada and northwestern Arizona

Bulletin 1082-D

Prepared on behalf of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and published with the permission of the Commission



Pegmatite occurs widely in Nevada and northwestern Arizona, but little mining has been done for such pegmatite minerals as mica, feldspar, beryl, and lepidolite. Reconnaissance for beryl-bearing pegmatite in Nevada and in part of Mohave County, Ariz., and detailed studies in the Dawley Canyon area, Elko County, Nev., have shown that beryl occurs in at least 11 districts in the region. Muscovite has been prospected or mined in the Ruby and Virgin Mountains, Nev., and in Mohave County, Ariz. Feldspar has been mined in the southern part of the region near Kingman, Ariz., and in Clark County, Nev.

The pegmatites in the region range in age from Precambrian to late Mesozoic or Tertiary. Among the pegmatite minerals found or reported in the districts studied are beryl, chrysoberyl, scheelite, wolframite, garnet, tourmaline, fluorite, apatite, sphene, allanite, samarskite, euxenite, gadolinite, monazite, autunite, columbite-tantalite, lepidolite, molybdenite, and pyrite and other sulflde minerals.

The principal beryl-bearing pegmatites examined are in the Oreana and Lakeview (Humboldt Canyon) areas, Pershing County; the Dawley Canyon area in the Ruby Mountains, Elko County, Nev.; and on the Hummingbird claims in the Virgin Mountains, Mohave County, Ariz. Beryl has also been reported in the Marietta district, Mineral County; the Sylvania district, Esmeralda County; near Crescent Peak and near Searchlight, Clark County, Nev.; and in the Painted Desert near Hoover Dam, Mohave County, Ariz.

Pegmatites are abundant in the Ruby Mountains, chiefly north of the granite stock at Harrison Pass. In the Dawley Canyon area of 2.6 square miles at least 350 pegmatite dikes more than 1 foot thick were mapped, and beryl was found in small quantities in at least 100 of these dikes. Four of these dikes exceed 20 feet in thickness, and 1 is 55 feet thick. A few pegmatites were also examined in the Corral Creek, Gilbert Canyon, and Hankins Canyon areas in the Ruby Mountains.

The pegmatite dikes in the Dawley Canyon area intrude granite and metamorphic rocks which consist chiefly of quartzite and schist of probable Early Cambrian age. The granite is of two types: a biotite-muscovite granite that forms the main mass of the stock and albite granite that occurs in the metamorphic rocks near the borders of the stock. The pegmatites were emplaced chiefly along fractures in the granite and along schistosity or bedding planes in the metamorphic rocks.

Many of the Dawley Canyon pegmatite dikes are zoned, having several rock units of contrasting mineralogy or grain size formed successively from the walls inward. Aplitic units occur either as zones or in irregular positions in the pegmatite dikes and are a distinctive feature of the Dawley Canyon pegmatites. Some of the aplitic and fine-grained pegmatite units are characterized by thin layers of garnet crystals, forming many parallel bands on outcrop surfaces. The occurrence of aplitic and pegmatitic textures in the same dike presumably indicates abrupt changes in physical-chemical conditions during crystallization, such as changes in viscosity and in content of volatile constituents.

Concentrations of 0.1 percent or more beryl, locally more than 1 percent, occur in certain zones in the Dawley Canyon pegmatites. Spectrographic analyses of 23 samples indicate that the BeO content ranges from 0.0017 to 0.003 percent in the albite granite, from ,0.0013 to 0.039 percent in aplitic units in pegmatite, from 0.0005 to 0.10 percent in coarse-grained pegmatite, and from less than 0.0001 to 0.0004 percent in massive quartz veins.

The scheelite-beryl deposits at Oreana and in Humboldt Canyon, Pershing County, are rich in beryllium. Twelve samples from the Lakeview (Humboldt Canyon) deposit range from 0.018 to 0.11 percent BeO, but underground crosscuts have failed to intersect similar rock at depth. Beryl locally constitutes as much as 10 percent of the pegmatitic ore at Oreana. The beryl was not recovered during tungsten mining at Oreana and is now in the tailings of the mill at Toulon, Nev. The percentage of beryl is lower than the Oreana ore because of dilution by tailings from other ores milled at Toulon.

Beryl has been found in many pegmatite dikes in the Virgin Mountains. Both beryl and chrysoberyl occur in dikes on the Hummingbird claims, north of Virgin Peak, in Mohave County, Ariz. Spectrographic analyses of 5 representative samples of the principal dike on the Hummingbird claims range from 0.055 to 0.11 percent BeO.

Study Area

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USGS Numbered Series
Beryl-bearing pegmatites in the Ruby Mountains and other areas in Nevada and northwestern Arizona
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U.S. Government Printing Office
Report: v, 65 p.; 3 Plates: 26.57 x 28.89 inches or smaller
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Contributions to economic geology, 1958
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United States
Arizona, Nevada