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New Mexico structural zone - An analogue of the Colorado mineral belt

January 1, 2002

Updated aeromagnetic maps of New Mexico together with current knowledge of the basement geology in the northern part of the state (Sangre de Cristo and Sandia–Manzano Mountains)—where basement rocks were exposed in Precambrian-cored uplifts—indicate that the northeast-trending Proterozoic shear zones that controlled localization of ore deposits in the Colorado mineral belt extend laterally into New Mexico. The shear zones in New Mexico coincide spatially with known epigenetic precious- and base-metal ore deposits; thus, the mineralized belts in the two states share a common inherited basement tectonic setting. Reactivation of the basement structures in Late Cretaceous–Eocene and Mid-Tertiary times provided zones of weakness for emplacement of magmas and conduits for ore-forming solutions. Ore deposits in the Colorado mineral belt are of both Late Cretaceous–Eocene and Mid-Tertiary age; those in New Mexico are predominantly Mid-Tertiary in age, but include Late Cretaceous porphyry-copper deposits in southwestern New Mexico.

The mineralized belt in New Mexico, named the New Mexico structural zone, is 250-km wide. The northwest boundary is the Jemez subzone (or the approximately equivalent Globe belt), and the southeastern boundary was approximately marked by the Santa Rita belt. Three groups (subzones) of mineral deposits characterize the structural zone: (1) Mid-Tertiary porphyry molybdenite and alkaline-precious-metal deposits, in the northeast segment of the Jemez zone; (2) Mid-Tertiary epithermal precious-metal deposits in the Tijeras (intermediate) zone; and (3) Late Cretaceous porphyry-copper deposits in the Santa Rita zone. The structural zone was inferred to extend from New Mexico into adjacent Arizona. The structural zone provides favorable sites for exploration, particularly those parts of the Jemez subzone covered by Neogene volcanic and sedimentary rocks.

Publication Year 2002
Title New Mexico structural zone - An analogue of the Colorado mineral belt
DOI 10.1016/S0169-1368(02)00090-2
Authors P. K. Sims, H. J. Stein, Carol A. Finn
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ore Geology Reviews
Index ID 70024164
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse