Abstract

The West Shasta massive sulfide district is in the easternmost of a series of accreted island-arc and oceanic crust terranes that comprise the Klamath Mountains. A sequence of submarine volcanic rocks of predominantly Early Devonian age is the principal component of the island-arc terrane in which the sulfide deposits are hosted. The Copley Greenstone, consisting mainly of andesitic and basaltic pillow lavas and breccias totaling at least 1,800 m in thickness, is the oldest rock unit in the sequence. It is overlain and also intruded by dikes of the Balaklala Rhyolite. Northeast of the West Shasta district, greenstone also overlies the Balaklala Rhyolite, suggesting that a major greenstone unit may overlie potentially mineralized rhyolite east of the district. However, recent studies have shown that the complex relations in that area can be explained by folding.The Balaklala sequence consists of silicic flows, breccias, and tuffs having a maximum thickness somewhat in excess of 1,000 m. The Balaklala has been divided by Kinkel et al. (1956) into three units: a lower nonporphyritic to slightly porphyritic unit containing large amounts of breccia and tuff; a middle unit characterized by rhyolite containing quartz phenocrysts 1 to 4 mm in diameter but also containing a complex assortment of tuff, breccia, and pyritic massive sulfide bodies in its upper part; and an upper unit typically containing dark quartz phenocrysts in excess of 4 mm in diameter. Much of the lower part of the upper unit is pyroclastic material, whereas most of the upper part of the unit appears to be a massive volcanic-flow rock. At least half a dozen eruptive centers for the Balaklala Rhyolite are identified, three of them within an area measuring 17 X 3 km that constitutes the limits of the former mining district.The youngest unit in the arc sequence is the Kennett Formation consisting of black shale and chert containing radiolarians, which indicate fairly deep-water deposition in its lower part, and limestone containing a shallow water fauna of probable Middle Devonian age in the upper part. A 400-m.y.-old trondhjemite stock, named the Mule Mountain stock, intrudes the Copley Greenstone and Balaklala Rhyolite and is considered to be essentially coeval with these volcanic units.The pyritic massive sulfide deposits occur in clusters of individual bodies owing in large part to disruption by postmineral faults. The deposits are stratigraphically confined to the upper part of the subhorizontal middle unit of the Balaklala, and their horizontal distribution is here interpreted to have been controlled by an extensional tectonic regime that prevailed during Early Devonian time. The major geologic evidence for such a regime is the marked preferred elongations exhibited by the distribution of the afore-mentioned eruptive centers, the eight or nine massive sulfide clusters in the district, and the geometrically similar distribution of the clusters in relation to each other. The preferred directions of elongation in both the detailed and broader senses may be generalized to N 20 degrees to 25 degrees E, N 37 degrees E, N 60 degrees to 80 degrees E, and N 40 degrees to 60 degrees W. The three northeast trends dominate throughout the district, whereas the northwest trend is evident mainly in the northern part and is more speculative. The major deposit clusters fall at intersections of the major trends, some of which may have been grabens. Trend intersections having no known deposits may be good exploration targets in localities where the stratigraphically favorable middle unit of the Balaklala is still present.

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