Brian D. Rodriguez, 1997. "Deep Regional Resistivity Structure Across the Carlin Trend", Carlin-Type Gold Deposits Field Conference, Peter Vikre, Tommy B. Thompson, Keith Bettles, Odin Christensen, Ron Parratt
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The genesis of gold deposits along the Carlin trend is not fully understood. Many of the significant mineral deposits in the Carlin trend were formed during the Tertiary as a result of interrelated high-angle basin-and-range faulting, intrusive igneous activity, and hydrothermal processes (Radtke, 1985). According to Shawe (1991), the linearity of the gold deposits along the Carlin trend and the sub-parallel Battle Mountain-Eureka trend suggests that deep-penetrating regional structures controlled the emplacement of magmas generated in the lower part of the crust or upper mantle, and either provided hydrothermal fluids or caused heating of ground waters that were responsible for transport and deposition of the gold ores. To investigate crustal processes that may have contributed to the genesis of gold deposits along the trend, a regional southwest to northeast profile of magnetotelluric (MT) soundings was acquired in 1996 (line MT-MT′, Fig. 1). Two-dimensional resistivity modeling of the MT profile is being used to place constraints on possible heat or magma sources and possible tectonic controls on the linear distribution of mineral deposits.
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Including past production, reserves and resources, the Carlin Trend forms the largest and most prolific accumulation of gold deposits in North America. More than 40 separate deposits have been delineated since disseminated gold mineralization in carbonate rocks was discovered in 1961. From this discovery, a classification for this style of gold mineralization has come to be referred to as “Carlin-type” deposits. To date, more than 25 million ounces of gold have been mined on the Carlin Trend from 26 separate operating, or past producing mines (Table 1 ). Open pit mining on the Carlin Trend began in 1965 at the Carlin Mine, and underground mining began in 1993 on the same deposit.
The scope of this paper is to first present a regional overview of the Carlin Trend, followed by summary descriptions of some of the more recent discoveries of deep, predominantly refractory gold deposits. As part of a concluding discussion, a spectrum of Carlin Trend deposits are categorized on a quaternary diagram to illustrate the I relative influence of structural and stratigraphic controls on each deposit.
The Carlin Trend is a 60 kilometer long north-northwest trending alignment of gold deposits located in northeastern Nevada, within the larger Great Basin physiographic province of the western United States (Figs. 1, 2). Gold deposits are hosted in a variable stratigraphic package of Ordovician through lower, Mississippian rocks. Within specific deposits, gold mineralization hosted in Cretaceous and Tertiary dike swarms and the Jurassic-Cretaceous Goldstrike granodiorite stock constitutes up to 15% of the mineralized material.
Regional Tectonic Development Regional stratigraphic and isotopic data indicate that northeastern Nevada was situated along a stable paleo-continental margin during much of the Cambrian through Early Mississippian (Stewart,1980). During this period, a westward-thickening, prism-shaped package of sediments were deposited from the outer margins of the paleo-continental shelf into an oceanic basin. Within this depositional environment, sedimentary facies graded from western eugeoclina1, to eastern miogeoclinal sequences.
During Late Devonian through Middle Mississippian time, eastward-directed compressional tectonism associated with the Antler orogeny resulted in regional scale folding and imbricate thrusting of the western eugeoclinal assemblage of predominantly siliciclastic rocks, over the eastern autochthonous assemblage of silty carbonate rocks (Roberts et al., 1958). The resultant accretionary mass formed the emergent Antler highlands which shed an eastward directed overlap assemblage of clastic rocks during Middle Mississippian to Early Pennsylvanian (Smith and Kettner,1975).
Late Paleozoic tectonism during Early to Middle Pennsylvanian time (Humboldt orogeny) was followed by deposition of shelf carbonate sequences during the Late Pennsylvanian and Permian (Smith and Kettner,1975; Kettner, 1977).