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Geologic Relationships, K-Ar Ages, and Isotopic Data from the Willow Creek Gold Mining District, Southern Alaska

By
Dawn J. Madden-Mcguire
Dawn J. Madden-Mcguire
US. Geological Survey, Box 25046, Mail Stop 973, Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225-0046
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Miles L. Silberman
Miles L. Silberman
US. Geological Survey, Box 25046, Mail Stop 973, Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225-0046
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Stanley E. Church
Stanley E. Church
US. Geological Survey, Box 25046, Mail Stop 973, Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225-0046
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Published:
January 01, 1989

Abstract

The Willow Creek mining district is located in the Peninsular terrane in Alaska, on the southwestern margin of the Talkeetna Mountains batholith. The district contains exposures of tonalite (74-73 Ma) and adamellite (67-65 Ma) of the batholith and an older unit of schist that has no nearby correlative units. The tonalite (quartz diorite) and schist both host gold-bearing quartz veins in fractures and shears, whereas the adamellite (quartz monzonite) appears to be barren of gold mineralization. Our data suggest that there is a previously unmapped fault along the contact between the mineralized tonalite and schist. The fault may have provided a conduit for mineralizing fluids.

Ceologic relations and K-Ar ages indicate that at least two periods of mineralization occurred at 66 and at 57 to 55 Ma. At 66 Ma, the intruding adamellite provided heat and possibly fluids to the tonalite as suggested by K-Ar ages from a gold-bearing quartz vein and from dikes in the tonalite. At 57 to 55 Ma, the source of heat is uncertain. Both periods of mineralization occurred during right-oblique subduction of the Kula plate beneath the Peninsular terrane and some mineralizing fluids may have originated in zones of metamorphism and partial melting in the descending Kula plate, Fluids of deep origin, magmatic and/or met amorphic, could have moved through a deeply rooted fault system and out into the host rocks along splays and fractures related to a fault separating the schist and tonalite.

Oxygen isotope data suggest that the mineralizing fluids were similar in their oxygen isotope composition to the tonalite, and perhaps the adamellite, but were unlike the schist. This similarity could have resulted if the fluids equilibrated with a plutonic body (tonalite or adamellite) at temperatures high enough that fractionation approached zero. The measured values of δ18O from quartz in gold-bearing veins are 13.2 to 15.8 per mil, with one low value of 9.2 per mil from a pegmatite, and the calculated fluid values are 6.3 to 8.9 per mil. These values occur in veins with ages of 66 Ma, as well as in undated veins. The Pb isotope compositions of sulfides from two veins in the tonalite resemble each other but differ from those in the schist. These compositions suggest that the Pb in veins in the tonalite had a common source. In the schist, the gold-bearing veins may have farmed from the same mineralizing fluid that was modified in Pb isotope composition by circulation through the schist, or from a fluid that was different from the one that produced gold-bearing quartz veins in the tonalite.

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Contents

Economic Geology Monograph Series

The Geology of Gold Deposits: The Perspective in 1988

Reid R. Keays
Reid R. Keays
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W. R. H. Ramsay
W. R. H. Ramsay
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David I. Groves
David I. Groves
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Society of Economic Geologists
ISBN electronic:
9781629490014
Publication date:
January 01, 1989

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