Abstract

Potassium-argon dating of hypogene alunite and K-mica from hydrothermally altered rocks at Goldfield, Nevada, yields mineralization ages of 20 to 21 m.y., in good agreement with a mineralization age established by potassium-argon dating of unaltered premineralization and postmineralization volcanic units. Premineralization volcanic units that are pervasively propylitized cannot be dated by the potassium-argon method but yield zircon fission-track ages, and in several cases yield concordant apatite fission-track ages. Two samples from premineralization units yield apatite ages concordant with the age of mineralization established by potassium-argon geochronometry, reflecting annealing of the apatite during the hydrothermal episode.Potassium-argon dating of supergene alunite samples yields imprecise ages in the range 9 to 12 m.y. that probably record the first exposure of their hydrothermally altered host rocks to oxidizing conditions. Potassium-argon dating of postmineralization basalts and silicic tuffs interbedded with conglomerates bearing altered rock clasts shows that the altered area was eroded nearly to present topographic levels by 11 m.y. ago, at which time it was covered by basalt flows now represented only by scattered remnants. Apatites from premineralization volcanic units give fission-track ages of 20 m.y. or more, indicating that no significant thermal event has affected altered rocks at Goldfield since mineralization took place.

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