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During the late Mesozoic and the Cenozoic widespread hydrothermal activity, much of it accompanied by gold-silver mineralization, has characterized the evolution of the El Salvador region. Gold and silver, usually in the range 3 to 10 g/metric ton for both metals, have been recorded from a wide variety of deposit types: (1) massive quartz veins, (2) specularite-dominated veins and breccias, (3) porphyry-style gold-silver stockworks, (4) quartz-tourmaline-sulfide breccia pipes, (5) porphyry copper bodies, (6) carbonate-hosted and volcanic-hosted epithermal deposits. The gold and silver are usually by-product metals and current exploitation is centered on supergene-enriched ore from the oxidized zone. A strong structural control on ore deposition is apparent in virtually all deposits and there are indications of oogenetic epithermal-porphyry hydrothermal systems based on fracture systems. In addition, structural controls of regional dimensions are proposed with intense igneous and hydrothermal activity being channeled along crustal-scale fissures.

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