Abstract

Placer gold along the upper portions of Gold Creek, near Deer Lodge, Montana, occurs in Pliocene(?) fossil alluvial placers, Pleistocene till, and alluvium. The upper Gold Creek placers yielded an estimated 175 to 200 kg gold during 1890 to 1990. The gold probably originated in veins, skarn, or replacement deposits in Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary units near the contact with Late Cretaceous granodiorite of the Royal stock. Gold was initially concentrated in alluvial placers along the ancestral Gold Creek valley during late Tertiary (Pliocene) time. Pleistocene glaciers scoured the Pliocene placers from most parts of the valley, although the fossil placers were locally buried beneath till and gold was also incorporated into till that was deposited farther down valley. Gold from Pliocene and Pleistocene placers has locally been reconcentrated into alluvium as a result of postglacial stream incision.The placer gold occurs as coarse-sized, oval to elongate grains characterized by rounded protuberances and inclusions of quartz and sulfide minerals. In polished section the grains have alternating convex and concave borders interrupted by pits and embayments. Grain borders and interiors of embayments display supergene gold rims averaging 98.8 percent Au. Microprobe analysis of cores indicate average compositions of 83.6 percent Au and 16.5 percent Ag and spectrographic data indicate a trace element signature enriched in Cu, Pb, and Sb, which is compatible with derivation from mesothermal plutonic lode deposits associated with the Royal stock.

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