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Gold-silver mining districts, alteration zones, and paleolandforms in the Miocene Bodie Hills Volcanic Field, California and Nevada

September 25, 2015
The Bodie Hills is a ~40 by ~30 kilometer volcanic field that straddles the California-Nevada state boundary between Mono Lake and the East Walker River. Three precious metal mining districts and nine alteration zones are delineated in Tertiary-Quaternary volcanic and Mesozoic granitic and metamorphic rocks that comprise the volcanic field. Cumulative production from the mining districts, Bodie, Aurora, and Masonic, is 3.4 million ounces of gold and 28 million ounces of silver. Small amounts of mercury were produced from the Potato Peak, Paramount-Bald Peak, and Cinnabar Canyon-US 395 alteration zones; a native sulfur resource in the Cinnabar Canyon-US 395 alteration zone has been identified by drilling. There are no known mineral resources in the other six alteration zones, Red Wash-East Walker River, East Brawley Peak, Sawtooth Ridge, Aurora Canyon, Four Corners, and Spring Peak. The mining districts and alteration zones formed between 13.4 and 8.1 Ma in predominantly ~15–9 Ma volcanic rocks of the Bodie Hills volcanic field. Ages of hydrothermal minerals in the districts and zones are the same as, or somewhat younger than, the ages of volcanic host rocks.
Based on volcanic stratigraphy, geochronology, remnant paleosurfaces, and paleopotentiometric surfaces in mining districts and alteration zones, present landforms in the Bodie Hills volcanic field reflect incremental construction of stratovolcanoes and large- to small-volume flow-domes, magmatic inflation, and fault displacements. Landform evolution began with construction of the 15–13 Ma Masonic and 13–12 Ma Aurora volcanic centers in the northwestern and northeastern parts of the field, respectively. Smaller volcanoes erupted at ~11–10 Ma in, between, and south of these centers as erosional detritus accumulated north of the field in Fletcher Valley. Distally sourced, 9.7–9.3 Ma Eureka Valley Tuff filled drainages and depressions among older volcanoes and was partly covered by nearly synchronous eruptives during construction of four large 10–8 Ma volcanoes, in the southern part of the field. The lack of significant internal fault displacement, distribution of Eureka Valley Tuff, and elevation estimates derived from floras, suggest that the Bodie Hills volcanic field attained present elevations mostly through volcano construction and magmatic inflation, and that maximum paleoelevations (>8,500 ft) at the end of large volume eruptions at ~8 Ma are similar to present elevations.
Publication Year 2015
Title Gold-silver mining districts, alteration zones, and paleolandforms in the Miocene Bodie Hills Volcanic Field, California and Nevada
DOI 10.3133/sir20155012
Authors Peter G. Vikre, David John, Edward A. du Bray, Robert J. Fleck
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2015-5012
Index ID sir20155012
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center