The areas covered by this report lies in the eastern Cordillera of the Colombian Andes in the region around Bucaramanga. This part of the eastern Cordillera consists of a structurally complex core of metamorphic and igneous rocks of Precambrian to Mesozoic age, flanked to east and west by faulted and folded sedimentary strata of late Paleozoic to Tertiary age. Infaulted blocks of sedimentary rocks are locally present in the massif. Unconsolidated deposits of Quaternary age, primarily terraced alluvium, are 10cally extensive in valleys on the flanks of the range. The crystalline central core of the range is called the Santander massif. In it are located the principal sold deposits and scattered deposits of copper, lead, zinc, and fluorite. The sedimentary rocks flanking the massif contain significant deposits of phosphate rock and gypsum, as well as other nonmetallic industrial minerals such as limestone, barite, glass sand, and coal. A belt of lead-zinc prospects in carbonate and sandstone beds of Cretaceous age on the east side of the range warrants further investigation.
Gold and silver are the only important metallic minerals that have been produced in the Santander massif. Mining dates back to colonial and possibly to pre-colonial times and continues on a small scale at present. The California and Vetas district was the main area of investigation of metallic minerals during the present project. Results of geochemical sampling of stream sediments and assays of vein material indicate that the main potential of the area is in gold with lesser potentials in copper, lead, zinc, and silver. Mineralization of the district is probably younger than Early Cretaceous.
Although no copper minerals have been mined elsewhere in the massif, small amounts of copper minerals in various rocks in scattered areas is revealed by green and blue stains of copper carbonates and sulfates. Deposits of greatest areal extent are in arkosic conglomeratic beds of the Giron Formation. These are being explored and sampled at the present time (1969). A little lead has been mined and smelted in the past but operations were on a very small scale and of short duration. Small amounts of lead, zinc, and copper minerals accompany dolomite replacement of Cretaceous limestone in a few scattered places, and several promising prospects are being investigated by means of trenches and drilling. One magnetite and several hematite prospects were examined but none offers any potential for economic development.
Thick beds of gypsum in Lower Cretaceous limestone on Mesa de Los Santos, south of Bucaramanga are being quarried from outcrops for use in cement manufacture. The deposit was discovered shortly before the present project began, and although its extent beneath overlying strata is not yet determined by drilling, it appears to be in a small evaporite basin of about three kilometers in radius. Reserves of gypsum are large, but future development will have to be by underground mining.
Outcrops of Cretaceous limestone of high purity are widespread and are more than adequate to meet all demands, which at present are for cement and calcined lime, road construction material, and to a small extent for agricultural lime and polished decorative stone. Upper Paleozoic limestone of the Diamante Formation crops out in a few places; it has been used near Bucaramanga for cement manufacture.
Marble is present in several localities of the Santander massif in Lower Paleozoic and Devonian rocks. Impurities, fractures, and solution cavities render most of it unsuitable for decorative purposes, but selected parts are used in floor tile and terrazo. Recrystallized limestone of the Diamante Formation in the same area, usually referred to as marble, is of uniform high purity throughout a thick and uninterrupted section, and offers a good source of limestone raw material. A little is now used for agricultural lime. The potential of this resource has not been fully evalua
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Mineral resources of the southern half of Zone III Santander, Norte de Santander and Boyaca, Colombia