The origin of Carlin-type or sediment-hosted, disseminated gold deposits of the Great Basin, the major source of gold in the United States, is poorly understood. We propose that Eocene magmatism was the heat source that drove the hydrothermal systems that generated these deposits in the Carlin trend and Independence Mountains in northern Nevada. This interpretation is based on a strong spatial and temporal association of Eocene intrusive-volcanic centers with the gold deposits of this region. Our new work and published 40Ar/39Ar dates indicate that magmatism was particularly intense between 39 and 40 Ma throughout northeastern Nevada, especially in and around the area of gold deposits. Carlin-type deposits may have formed preferentially during Eocene magmatism because it was (1) more intense in the area than other magmatic episodes, (2) somehow compositionally distinct, or (3) accompanied by extension that promoted hydrothermal flow. However, large-scale extension does not appear to have been a factor in generating Carlin-type deposits.

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