The Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria on the north coast of Colombia is an isolated triangular mountain area that reaches altitudes of almost 19,000 feet. The exceedingly complex geology is shown on the 1:200,000 geologic map. Despite five major periods of granitic intrusion, three major periods of metamorphism, and extensive volcanic eruptions, metallic deposits are small and widely scattered. Sulfide deposits of significant economic value appear to be absent. Many small copper deposits, of chalcocite, cuprite, malachite, and azurite are found in epidotized rock in Mesozoic redbeds and intercalated volcanic rocks, but their economic potential is very small. Deposits of other common base metals appear to be absent. The most important metallic deposits may prove to be unusual bimineralic apatite-ilmenite deposits associated with gneissic anorthosite. The known magnetite deposits are too small to be exploited commercially. Primary gold deposits have not been identified and the placer deposits are uneconomic and very small.
The largest and most important deposits are nonmetallic. Enormous reserves of limestone are suitable for cement manufacture and some high-purity limestone is suitable for the most exacting chemical uses. Small deposits of talc-tremolite could be exploited locally for ceramic use. The important noncoking bituminous coal deposits in the Cerrej6n area are excluded from this study. Other nonmetallic resources include igneous dimension stone in a variety of colors and textures, and agricultural dolomite. There probably are important undeveloped ground water resources on the slopes of the wide Rancheria and Cesar valleys, which separate the Sierra Nevada from the Serrania de Persia.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
The mineral resources of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Columbia (Zone I)