The Gilman mining district, known also in the past as the Red Cliff district, is in the mountains of southeastern Eagle County, west-central Colorado. The district is the leading source of zinc in Colorado and one of the major base-metal mining districts in the State. As valued at the time of production, total output of zinc, silver, copper, lead, and gold through 1972 was about $328 million. About 90 percent of this total was produced after 1930.
The productive part of the district is an area of about 3 square miles (7.8 square kilometers) on the northeast side of the deep canyon of the Eagle River between the small towns of Gilman and Red Cliff. The ore deposits are principally replacement deposits in dolomites of Mississippian and Devonian age and in quartzite of Cambrian age. A few productive veins occur in Precambrian rocks. The replacement deposits crop out in the cliffs of the canyon wall and extend northeastward downdip beneath Battle Mountain, which is composed of a thick sequence of Pennsylvanian clastic rocks. The deposits were originally worked through several separate mines along the canyon wall, but since 1918, all deposits in dolomite rocks, except some small ones near Red Cliff, have been worked through the Eagle mine of the New Jersey Zinc Company at Gilman.
The Gilman district lies on the eastern flank of the huge anticline of the Sawatch Range, near the steeply plunging north end of the anticline. Sedimentary rocks on the flank of this part of the anticline dip homoclinally northeastward to a synclinal axis about 8 mi (miles) (13 km (kilometers> northeast of Gilman and then rise more steeply to the Gore fault at the edge of the Gore Range. The homocline is broken by only a few faults most of which have displacements of less than 100 ft (feet) (30 m (meters>. In contrast, the underlying Precambrian rocks are broken by numerous faults and shear zones related to the Homestake shear zone, a northeast-trending master shear zone several miles wide. Fractures and shear zones along the northwest side of the master zone extend beneath the Gilman district.
The Gilman district is at the northwestern edge of the northeast-trending Colorado mineral belt as defined by mineralized areas and bodies of intrusive porphyries. Neighboring mining districts in the mineral belt to the southeast of Gilman are the Kokomo lead-zinc district, 13 mi (21 km) distant; the Climax molybdenum district, 16 mi (26 km) distant; and the Leadville district, 20 mi (32 km) distant. These districts, as well as others farther away, are characterized by abundant intrusive rocks of Laramide and middle Tertiary ages and by complex faults systems. The Gilman district, in contrast, contains only a single sill of porphyry and has very simple geologic structure. This probably reflects a position either at the side of or high above a batholith that is inferred from geologic and geophysical data to underlie the mineral belt at shallow depth.
The rock column preserved in the district consists, in succession downward, of (1) grit, conglomerate, sandstone, and shale of the Pennsylvanian Minturn Formation, as much as 6,300 ft (1,920 m) thick; (2) shale, limestone, and. sandstone of the Pennsylvanian Belden Formation, 200 ft (61 m) thick; (3) a sill of quartz latite porphyry of the Cretaceous Pando Porphyry about 80 ft (24 m) thick intruded in the basal shale of the Belden Formation; (4) dolomitized limestone of the Mississippian Leadville Dolomite, 110-140 ft (34-43 m) thick; (5) sandstone and sandy and cherty dolomite of the Mississippian or Devonian Gilman Sandstone, 15-50 ft (4.5-15 m) thick; (6) thin-bedded primary or diagenetic dolomite of the Mississippian(?) and Devonian Dyer Dolomite, 50-80 ft (15-24 m) thick; (7) quartzite, conglomerate, and green shale of the Devonian Parting Formation, 35-50 ft (11-15 m) thick; (8) sandstone and shale of the Ordovician Harding Sandstone, 14-80 ft (4.2-24 m) thick; (9) shaly and sandy dolomite and dolom