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Descriptions of mineral occurrences and interpretation of mineralized rock geochemical data in the Stikine geophysical survey area, Southeastern Alaska

May 1, 2003

Detailed descriptions of some of the more significant mineral occurrences in the Stikine Airborne Geophysical Survey Project Area are presented based upon site-specific examinations by the U.S. Geological Survey in May of 1998. Reconnaissance geochemical data on unmineralized igneous and sedimentary host rocks, and mineralized rocks are also presented and are accompanied by a brief analysis of geochemical signatures typical of each occurrence. Consistent with the stated goal of the geophysical survey; to stimulate exploration for polymetallic massive sulfides similar to the Greens Creek deposit, the majority of the described occurrences are possible members of a belt of Late Triassic mineral deposits that are distributed along the eastern edge of the Alexander terrane in southeastern Alaska. Many of the described occurrences in the Duncan Canal-Zarembo Island area share similarities to the Greens Creek deposit. When considered as a whole, the geology, mineralogy, and geochemistry of these occurrences help to define a transitional portion of the Late Triassic mineral belt where changes in shallow to deeper water stratigraphy and arc-like to rift-related igneous rocks are accompanied by concomitant changes in the size, morphology, and metal endowments of the mineral occurrences. As a result, Late Triassic mineral occurrences in the area appear as: 1) small, discontinuous, structurally controlled stockwork veins in mafic volcanic rocks, 2) small, irregular replacements and stratabound horizons of diagenetic semi-massive sulfides in dolostones and calcareous shales, and as 3) larger, recognizably stratiform accumulations of baritic, semi-massive to massive sulfides at and near the contact between mafic volcanic rocks and overlying sedimentary rocks. Empirical exploration guidelines for Greens Creek-like polymetallic massive sulfide deposits in southeastern Alaska include: 1) a Late Triassic volcano-sedimentary host sequence exhibiting evidence of succession from tectonic activity to quiescence (such as conglomeratic and/or mafic volcaniclastics or flows overlain by platform carbonate or shale sequences), 2) presence and proximity to Late Triassic mafic-ultramafic intrusions, 3) presence of quartz-carbonate-fuchsite altered ultramafic bodies, 4) pyritic, graphitic shales, 5) presence of barite and/or iron-manganese-rich carbonates, 6) low-iron sphalerite and antimony-rich sulfosalt minerals, 7) a geochemical signature including Fe-Zn-Pb-Cu-Ag-Au-Sb-Hg-As-Cd-Ba-Mn-Mo-Tl and the ultramafic-related suite of elements Ni-Cr-Co, and 8) a geophysical signature characterized by the coincidence of a sharp resistivity contrast with evidence for buried intrusive rocks. Critical factors for the development of larger, economic orebodies are significant thickness of pyritic, graphitic shale indicating that a locally reducing sedimentary setting was established and that accumulation of an insulating shale blank occurred, and proximity to Late Triassic aged hypabyssal mafic-ultramafic intrusive rocks.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2003
Title Descriptions of mineral occurrences and interpretation of mineralized rock geochemical data in the Stikine geophysical survey area, Southeastern Alaska
DOI 10.3133/ofr03154
Authors Cliff D. Taylor
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2003-154
Index ID ofr03154
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse