Resistivity structures across the Humboldt River basin, north-central Nevada

Open-File Report 2002-39
By:  and 



Magnetotelluric data collected along five profiles show deep resistivity structures beneath the Battle Mountain-Eureka and Carlin gold trends in north-central Nevada, which appear consistent with tectonic breaks in the crust that possibly served as channels for hydrothermal fluids. It seems likely that gold deposits along these linear trends were, therefore, controlled by deep regional crustal fault systems. Two-dimensional resistivity modeling of the magnetotelluric data generally show resistive (30 to 1,000 ohm-m) crustal blocks broken by sub-vertical, two-dimensional, conductive (1 to 10 ohmm) zones that are indicative of large-scale crustal fault zones. These inferred fault zones are regional in scale, trend northeast-southwest, north-south, and northwest-southeast, and extend to mid-crustal (20 km) depths. The conductors are about 2- to 15-km wide, extend from about 1 to 4 km below the surface to about 20 km depth, and show two-dimensional electrical structure. By connecting the locations of similar trending conductors together, individual regional crustal fault zones within the upper crust can be inferred that range from about 4- to 10-km wide and about 30- to 150-km long. One of these crustal fault zones coincides with the Battle Mountain-Eureka mineral trend. The interpreted electrical property sections also show regional changes in the resistive crust from south to north. Most of the subsurface in the upper 20 km beneath Reese River Valley and southern Boulder Valley are underlain by rock that is generally more conductive than the subsurface beneath Kelly Creek Basin and northern Boulder Valley. This suggests that either elevated-temperature or high-salinity fluids, alteration, or carbonaceous rocks are more pervasive in the more conductive area (Battle Mountain Heat-Flow High), which implies that the crust beneath these valleys is either more fractured or has more carbonaceous rocks than in the area surveyed along the 41st parallel.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Resistivity structures across the Humboldt River basin, north-central Nevada
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2002-39
DOI 10.3133/ofr0239
Year Published 2002
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Denver, CO
Description 114 p.