Abstract

In the southwest part of the Liberty pit a large porphyry body exhibits a zonal alteration pattern related to fissures and pyrite-bearing veins. The outermost zone contains unaltered K-feldspar, kaolinite after plagioclase, and black biotite after hornblende. An intermediate zone contains reconstituted K-feldspar, phlogopitic biotite, and muscovite or muscovite plus K-feldspar replacing only plagioclase. In the innermost zone the only silicates are quartz and muscovite. In some places an alteration band of K-feldspar after plagioclase separates kaolinite and muscovite.The widespread association of kaolinite and K-feldspar in hydrothermal alteration zones suggests that these two minerals were stable together at the time of formation. Experimental data show that, where quartz controls the activity of silica in solution, kaolinite and K-feldspar should react to form muscovite. However, calculations predict that, at 15,000 psi, solutions with silica activities compatible with amorphous or gelatinous silica could stabilize K-feldspar and kaolinite relative to muscovite at temperatures below about 250 degrees C. The rapid decomposition either of plagioclase feldspar or montmorillonite is considered a prime cause for the attainment of such high activities of silica in pore solutions of rock. The supersaturation of pore solutions with silica is a transient condition; quartz precipitates where kaolinite and K-feldspar react to give muscovite. Thus, the zonally distributed alteration at Ely is considered to have taken place after the rock had cooled to below 250 degrees C. In contrast, the diffusely distributed muscovite and montmorillonite found in another portion of the pit probably commenced at 600 degrees to 700 degrees C with only minor formation of alteration products below 250 degrees C.

First Page Preview

First page PDF preview
You do not currently have access to this article.