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Geologic setting, petrology, and geochemistry of stratiform sphalerite-galena-barite deposits, Red Dog Creek and Drenchwater Creek areas, northwestern Brooks Range, Alaska

June 9, 1985

Similar stratiform sphalerite-galena-barite deposits occur in the Red Dog Creek area, De Long Mountains quadrangle, and in the Drenchwater Creek area, Howard Pass quadrangle, northwestern Brooks Range, Alaska. The deposits, located approximately 180 km apart, are hosted by Mississippian and Pennsylvanian strata of the Kagvik structural sequence of late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic age. This sequence is situated in the lowermost structural plate of a series of predominantly east-striking, shallow-dipping thrust plates that characterize the regional structure. The deposits occur in shale, tuff, tuffaceous sandstone, altered chert, and quartz exhalite. These units are in places interlayered with or adjacent to bedded or nodular barite or submarine keratophyre flows. Chert and shale commonly contain abundant highly altered, fine-grained feldspar, pumice lapilli, and mafic volcanic rock fragments.The main types of occurrences at Red Dog Creek are: (1) disseminated and stratiform sulfides thinly bedded in organic-rich Mississippian and Pennsylvanian shale and chert, (2) massive sulfide veins and breccia fillings in silicified Mississippian and Pennsylvanian shale, and (3) stratiform sulfide-bearing lenses subdivided into (3a) quartz-exhalite with up to several percent sulfides and barite, (3b) massive sulfide-quartz lenses with up to several percent barite, and (3c) barite-quartz lenses with up to several percent sulfides.At Drenchwater Creek sulfides and barite occur as: (1) disseminations in shale, chert, tuff, and tuffaceous sandstone; (2) disseminations to aggregates in quartz exhalite; and (3) occurrences in veins crosscutting cleavages in brecciated chert and shale.The stratiform sulfides occur in zones up to several thousand meters long and several tens of meters thick. Preliminary grades at Red Dog Creek are 17.1 percent zinc, 5.0 percent lead, and 2.4 oz silver per ton contained in at least 85 million tons.The range of sulfide sulfur isotope values at Red Dog Creek is -16.6 per mil to +3.6 per mil. Sphalerite averages 0.8 per mil. Pyrite is isotopically lighter than coexisting sphalerite in quartz exhalite and massive sulfide lenses. This isotopic relationship is compatible with paragenetic relationships which show pyrite crystallized both earlier and later than other sulfides. Galena is isotopically lighter than coexisting sphalerite. Three groups of geologically and isotopically distinct barites exist including isotopic values appropriate for derivation from late Paleozoic seawater sulfate.Early in the depositional sequence isotopically light pyrite formed from organically reduced seawater sulfate. Sphalerite, galena, late pyrite, and some barite precipitated from two sulfur-bearing solutions that mixed at the mineralization site. Isotopically light barite associated with sulfides precipitated from oxidized H 2 S without seawater sulfate contribution. Lead isotope data from Red Dog and Drenchwater Creeks are compatible with generation of lead in a Phanerozoic mature island-arc setting, a typical orogene, or possibly a back-arc type intracratonic basin.The stratiform sphalerite-galena-barite deposits probably formed in an incipient island-arc environment near a continental margin, containing magmas of keratophyric and andesitic composition, where metal-laden hydrothermal fluids discharged into a deep (?) water, low-energy environment. Later intense deformation, associated with plate docking and thrusting, disrupted and partly remobilized and stratiform deposits.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1985
Title Geologic setting, petrology, and geochemistry of stratiform sphalerite-galena-barite deposits, Red Dog Creek and Drenchwater Creek areas, northwestern Brooks Range, Alaska
DOI 10.2113/gsecongeo.80.7.1896
Authors Ian M. Lange, Warren J. Nokleberg, J.T. Plahuta, H.R. Krouse, B. R. Doe
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Economic Geology
Series Number
Index ID 70210571
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center