Pegmatites of the Crystal Mountain district, Larimer County, Colorado

Trace Elements Investigations 139



The Front Range of Colorado is composed chiefly of schists of the pre-Cambrian Idaho Springs formation which have been intruded by a variety of granitic batholiths. In the Crystal Mountain district the Mount Olympus granite, a satellite of the Longs Peak batholith, forms sills and essentially concordant multiple intrusions in quartz-mica schist that dips southward at moderate to steep angles. A great number of pegmatites accompanied and followed the intrusion of the sills, and formed concordant and discordant bodies in schist and granite.

Over 1,300 pegmatites in the Hyatt area north of the Big Thompson River are mapped and individually described. There are 27 pegmatites in the area that are made up of a wall zone and a core, and one, the pegmatite at the Hyatt mine, is composed of five zones. The largest pegmatites in the area are discordant in schist and occupy zones that are interpreted to be tear faults and tension fractures produced by the successive intrusions of granite that formed multiple sills. The majority of pegmatites in the large multiple sills were emplaced along the foliation and fractures.

The composition of 96 percent of the pegmatites is granitic, 3.5 percent are quartz-rich pegmatites, and a few are tourmaline-rich. The pegmatites were intruded over a period of time and probably were derived from a granitic magma at different stages during differentiation. Solutions escaping from many of the pegmatites tournalinized and silicified the wall rocks for a few inches to two feet, but chemical and spectrographic analyses fail to show the transport of any other constituents.

Perthite, plagioclase, and quartz are the essential minerals of the pegmatites, and muscovite is a minor but widespread constituent. Tourmaline, garnet, beryl, and apatite are common accessory minerals, and lithiophillitite-triphylite, bismuthinite, uraninite, columbite-tantalite, and chrysoberyl are rare constituents. Beryl is found in 250 or 27 percent of the pegmatites and makes up 0.01 percent or more of 77 bodies. The beryl-bearing pegmatites are richest in two of the three large granite masses, and are somewhat less rich at a distance of more than a thousand feet from the margins of the intrusives, but contain the least beryl in the thousand-foot belt immediately surrounding the intrusives. The Hyatt pegmatite is by far the richest deposit of beryl in the area mapped.

Most of the pegmatites mapped are "unzoned" or homogeneous pegmatites. All gradations are visible between bodies consisting of uniform texture and mineral distribution to zoned pegmatites. The interpretation is made that, for most pegmatites, the initial composition determines whether or not zones will form. Pegmatites containing many zones can form from a magma composed of the elements in perthite, plagioclase, quartz, and muscovite, depending on the proportions of the components crystallizing at any given time. The complexly zoned deposits depend for their formation on the presence of a number of the rarer elements, principally lithium. Replacement textures in zones result from the interaction of the rest-liquid with the earlier-formed solid crystals. No mappable pegmatite in the Crystal Mountain district formed from the replacement of pre-existing pegmatite by solutions escaping from the rest-liquid, or by solutions originating outside the pegmatite.

Three beryl-bearing zoned pegmatites, the Hyatt, Big Boulder, and Buckhorn Mica deposits, were explored by core drilling. Each deposit is mapped and described in detail, and the mineral reserves evaluated. The exploration indicates a total of 2,000 tons of beryl, of which 480 tons is estimated to be recoverable by hand sorting. The mapping of the 3 3/4-square mile Hyatt area indicates beryl in sufficient abundance to infer beryl resources of an additional 1,150 tons.

Small tonnages of scrap mica and perthite may be obtained from the Hyatt and Big Boulder prospects, and columbite-tantalite may occur in sufficient amounts at the Buckhorn Mica mine and Tantalum claim to produce several hundred pounds as a byproduct of beryl mining. Dumps at the various deposits contain 25 to 50 tons of beryl.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Pegmatites of the Crystal Mountain district, Larimer County, Colorado
Series title Trace Elements Investigations
Series number 139
DOI 10.3133/tei139
Year Published 1952
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Description 167 p.
Country United States
State Colorado
County Larimer County
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