Abstract

Epithermal Ag-Au vein and disseminated deposits in the Yankee Fork district are hosted in altered volcanic rocks having low delta 18 O values, low magnetic susceptibilities, low remanent magnetizations, and relatively high densities. These isotopic and physical quantities provide sensitive indices of rock alteration that can be contoured over areas that are much larger than zones of strong visible alteration. Such contour maps reveal a marked spatial association between the ore deposits, the steepest delta 18 O gradients, and the perimeter of zones where the rocks have extremely low total magnetizations. The oxygen isotope results indicate that the ore zones coincide with steep gradients in temperature and water/rock ratio in two fossil hydrothermal convective systems that involved fluids derived from Tertiary meteoric waters. Our magnetic measurements suggest that these same high-gradient zones also coincide with oxidation-reduction boundaries. Low aeromagnetic intensities and positive Bouguer anomalies are also associated with the altered zones in the Yankee Fork district. The intensities of these geophysical features are consistent with the size of the altered zones and with the contrast in physical properties between altered and unaltered rocks. Contour maps of the magnetic and isotopic properties of host rocks should find application in exploration for a variety of types of hydrothermal ore deposits, as well as in the study of ore controls and conditions of mineralization.

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