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Porphyry copper exploration model for northern Sonora, Mexico

January 1, 1978

The regional tectonic pattern of the porphyry copper province of northern Sonora, Mexico, is similar to, but more complex than, the Colorado mineral belt. Four northeast-trending shear zones, spaced at 30- to 50-kilometer intervals from Hermosillo, Mexico, north to Nogales, Mexico, are interpreted from analysis of lineament data from Landsat-1 images. From comparison with other areas, these zones are believed to have Precambrian ancestry. North-northwest-trending lineaments, which commonly occur along range fronts, are interpreted to be the principal basin and range faults. North-south- and west-northwest-trending lineaments are believed to be related to lesser faults and fractures. Areas of hydrothermal alteration have been mapped on a regional scale by use of digital image-processing techniques. These altered areas occur on the flanks of the northeast-trending shear zones, generally near intersections with north-northwest-trending lineaments. This tectonic framework with associated alteration is similar to patterns in the Colorado Plateau, the porphyry copper province of Arizona, and central Mexico and is supported by relationships found in limited local mapping. The pattern of northeast-trending shear zones and north-northwest-trending faults in northern Sonora closely resembles the tectonic framework of the Colorado mineral belt. The younger sedimentary and volcanic cover, however, has not been eroded in Sonora as it has been in the Colorado mineral belt. This comparison with the Colorado mineral belt suggests that mineral deposits are most likely to be found in altered areas where a northeast-trending shear zone is intersected by north-northwest-trending faults. Seven areas with these characteristics have been defined in Sonora and are being evaluated by means of regional geophysical and geochemical data.

Publication Year 1978
Title Porphyry copper exploration model for northern Sonora, Mexico
Authors Gary L. Raines
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Research of the U.S. Geological Survey
Index ID 70233069
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse