Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Noble gas data from Goldfield and Tonopah epithermal Au-Ag deposits, ancestral Cascades Arc, USA: Evidence for a primitive mantle volatile source

July 26, 2017

The He, Ne, and Ar isotopic composition of fluid inclusions in ore and gangue minerals were analyzed to determine the source of volatiles in the high-grade Goldfield and Tonopah epithermal Au-Ag deposits in southwestern Nevada, USA. Ar and Ne are mainly atmospheric, whereas He has only a minor atmospheric component. Corrected 3He/4He ratios (with atmospheric He removed) range widely from 0.05 to 35.8 times the air 3He/4He ratio (RA), with a median of 1.43 RA. Forty-one percent of measured 3He/4He ratios are ≥4 RA, corresponding to ≥50% mantle He assuming a mantle ratio of 8 RA. These results suggest that mafic magmas were part of the magmatic-hydrothermal system underlying Goldfield and Tonopah, and that associated mantle-sourced volatiles may have played a role in ore formation. The three highest corrected 3He/4He ratios of 17.0, 23.7, and 35.8 RAindicate a primitive mantle He source and are the highest yet reported for any epithermal-porphyry system and for the Cascades arc region. Compiled 3He/4He measurements from epithermal-porphyry systems in subduction-related magmatic arcs around the world (n = 209) display a statistically significant correlation between 3He/4He and Au-Ag grade. The correlation suggests that conditions which promote higher fluid inclusion 3He/4He ratios (abundance of mantle volatiles and focused upward volatile transport) have some relation to conditions that promote higher Au-Ag grades (focused flow of metal-bearing fluids and efficient chemical traps). Results of this and previous investigations of He isotopes in epithermal-porphyry systems are consistent with the hypothesis posed in recent studies that mafic magmas serve an important function in the formation of these deposits.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Noble gas data from Goldfield and Tonopah epithermal Au-Ag deposits, ancestral Cascades Arc, USA: Evidence for a primitive mantle volatile source
DOI 10.1016/j.oregeorev.2017.06.023
Authors Andrew H. Manning, Albert H. Hofstra
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ore Geology Reviews
Index ID 70189810
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center