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Gold-quartz veins south of Libby, Montana

January 1, 1934

The area described in this paper is one of rugged mountains, composed chiefly of folded and faulted sedimentary rocks of the Belt series. In the nearby region the beds are intruded by diorite sills and granitic stocks. Glacial drift, including silt deposited in a lake, covers much of the lower slopes of the mountains and partly fills the valleys.

Incomplete records show a production of $200,000 in gold, mostly from the oxidized free-milling parts of quartz veins. Except a few in the Wallace formation the veins are found in sandstone and shale of the Prichard formation. They partly replace the country rock along fractures that commonly follow bedding planes but also cut across them at moderate angles. The veins average between 1 and 2 feet in thickness and reach a maximum of 6 feet. They are cut by faults of small displacement, with which the ore bodies are commonly associated.

Quartz forms 95 percent or more of the veins. Of the remainder, one or more of the minerals pyrite, galena, sphalerite, and pyrrhotite are relatively abundant, and chalcopyrite, arsenopyrite, tetrahedrite, and scheelite are present sparingly. A little silver is present, and in some veins it exceeds the gold considerably.

In many veins an original quartz filling has been slightly brecciated or sheared by movement parallel to the walls. Sulphides and gold have been introduced along the shear planes, partly replacing the quartz and giving the vein a "ribbon" structure. The gold is closely associated with the sphalerite, and silver is more plentiful in the veins that carry galena.

As a rule oxidation has not extended far below the surface, and its chief product is limonite. Cerusite and anglesite are present in some veins, and a little malachite, azurite, pyromorphite, or manganese oxide occurs in a few. Native gold is present in both the oxidized and unoxidized ores.

Although mining of these veins in the past may have been unprofitable, that result was due partly, at least, to difficulties of transportation and milling. With improvement in roads and methods, not to mention appreciation in the value of gold, the deposits are believed to have a promising future.

Publication Year 1934
Title Gold-quartz veins south of Libby, Montana
DOI 10.3133/cir7
Authors Russell Gibson
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Circular
Series Number 7
Index ID cir7
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse