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A deposit model for Mississippi Valley-Type lead-zinc ores

August 3, 2010

This report is a descriptive model of Mississippi Valley-Type (MVT) lead-zinc deposits that presents their geological, mineralogical and geochemical attributes and is part of an effort by the U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Resources Program to update existing models and develop new models that will be used for an upcoming national mineral resource assessment. This deposit modeling effort by the USGS is intended to supplement previously published models for use in mineral-resource and mineral-environmental assessments. Included in this report are geological, geophysical and geochemical assessment guides to assist in mineral resource estimation. The deposit attributes, including grade and tonnage of the deposits described in this report are based on a new mineral deposits data set of all known MVT deposits in the world.

Mississippi Valley-Type (MVT) lead-zinc deposits are found throughout the world but the largest, and more intensely researched deposits occur in North America. The ores consist mainly of sphalerite, galena, and generally lesser amounts of iron sulfides. Silver is commonly an important commodity, whereas Cu is generally low, but is economically important in some deposits. Gangue minerals may include carbonates (dolomite, siderite, ankerite, calcite), and typically minor barite. Silicification of the host rocks (or quartz gangue) is generally minor, but may be abundant in a few deposits. The deposits have a broad range of relationships with their host rocks that includes stratabound, and discordant ores; in some deposits, stratiform and vein ore are important.

The most important characteristics of MVT ore deposits are that they are hosted mainly by dolostone and limestone in platform carbonate sequences and usually located at flanks of basins, orogenic forelands, or foreland thrust belts inboard of the clastic rock-dominated passive margin sequences. They have no spatial or temporal relation to igneous rocks, which distinguishes them from skarn or other intrusive rock-related Pb-Zn ores. Abundant evidence has shown that the ore fluids were derived mainly from evaporated seawater and were driven within platform carbonates by large-scale tectonic events.

MVT deposits formed mainly during the Phanerozoic with more than 80 percent of the deposits hosted in Phanerozoic rocks and less than 20 percent in Precambrian rocks. Phanerozoic-hosted MVT deposits also account for 94 percent of total MVT ore, and 93 percent of total MVT lead and zinc metal. Many MVT deposits formed during Devonian to Permian time, corresponding to a series of intense tectonic events during assimilation of Pangea. The second most important period for MVT deposit genesis was Cretaceous to Tertiary time when microplate assimilation affected the western margin of North America and Africa-Eurasia.

Many subtypes or alternative classifications have been applied to MVT deposits. These alternative classifications reflect geographic and or specific geological features that some workers believe set them apart as unique (for example, Appalachian-, Alpine-, Reocin-, Irish-, Viburnum trend-types). However, we do not consider these alternative classifications or sub-types to be sufficiently different to warrant using them.

This report also describes the geoenvironmental characteristic of MVT deposits. The response of MVT ores in the supergene environment is buffered by their placement in carbonate host rocks which commonly results in near-neutral associated drainage water. The geoenvironmental features and anthropogenic mining effects presented in this report illustrates this important environmental aspect of MVT deposits which separates them from other deposit types (especially coal, VHMS, Cu-porphyry, SEDEX, acid-sulfate polymetallic vein).

Publication Year 2010
Title A deposit model for Mississippi Valley-Type lead-zinc ores
DOI 10.3133/sir20105070A
Authors David L. Leach, Ryan D. Taylor, David L. Fey, Sharon F. Diehl, Richard W. Saltus
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2010-5070
Index ID sir20105070A
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center