The Cripple Creek alkaline igneous rock-related, low-sulfidation epithermal gold telluride deposit, Colorado, is hosted in the 10 km wide Oligocene alkaline volcanic Cripple Creek diatreme in Proterozoic rocks. Gold occurs as native gold, Au-tellurides, and in the structure of arsenian pyrite, in potassically altered high-grade veins, and as disseminations in the host rocks.
Correlation coefficients, principal component analysis, hierarchical cluster analysis and random forests were used to analyse major and trace element compositions of 995 rock samples primarily from low-grade gold mineralization in drill core from three currently operating pits (Wild Horse Extension, Globe Hill and Schist Island) in the northwestern part of the Cripple Creek diatreme. These methods suggest that Ag, As, Bi, Te and W are the best pathfinders to gold mineralization in low-grade disseminated ore. Although Mo correlates with gold in other studies and is spatially related to gold veins, molybdenite post-dated the formation of gold and is likely related to a late-stage porphyry overprint. These elements, in conjunction with mineralogical studies, indicate that tellurides, fluorite, quartz, carbonates, roscoelite, tennantite-tetrahedrite, pyrite, sphalerite, muscovite, monazite, bastnäsite and hübnerite serve as exploration guides to ore.