Abstract

The Bulldog Mountain vein system, Creede district, Colorado, is one of four major epithermal vein systems from which the bulk of the district's historical Ag-Pb-Zn-Cu production has come. Ores deposited along the vein system were discovered in 1965 and were mined from 1969 to 1985.Six temporally gradational mineralization stages have been identified along the Bulldog Mountain vein system, each with a characteristic suite of minerals deposited or leached and a characteristic distribution within the vein system; some of these stages are also strongly zoned within the vein system. Stage A was dominated by deposition of rhodochrosite along the lower levels of the Bulldog Mountain ore zone. Stage B in the northern parts of the ore zone is characterized by abundant fine-grained sphalerite and galena, with lesser tetrahedrite and minor chlorite and hematite. With increasing elevation to the south, stage B ores become progressively more barite and silver rich, with alternating barite and fine-grained sphalerite + galena generations; native silver + or - acanthite assemblages are also locally abundant within southern stage B barite sulfide ores, whereas chalcopyrite and other Cu and Ag sulfides and sulfosalts are present erratically in minor amounts. Stage C in the upper and northern portions of the ore zone is characterized by abundant quartz and fluorite, minor adularia, hematite, Mn siderite, sphalerite, and galena, and major leaching of earlier barite; to the south, some barite and sulfides may have been deposited. Stage D sphalerite and galena were deposited in the upper and northern portions of the ore zone; a barite- and silver-rich facies of this stage may also be present in the southern portions of the vein system. Late in stage D, mineralogically complex assemblages containing chalcopyrite, tetrahedrite, polybasite, bornite, pyrargyrite, and a variety of other sulfides and sulfosalts were deposited in modest amounts throughout the vein system. This complex assemblage marked the transition to stage E. During stage E, the final sulfide stage, abundant botryoidal pyrite and marcasite with lesser stibnite, sphalerite, and sulfosalts were deposited primarily along the top of the Bulldog Mountain ore zone. Stage F, the final mineralization stage along the vein system, is marked by wire silver and concurrent leaching of earlier sulfides and sulfosalts; this stage may reflect the transition to a supergene environment.The sequence of mineralization stages identified in this study along the Bulldog Mountain system can be correlated with corresponding stages identified by other researchers along the OH and P veins, and the southern Amethyst vein system. Mineral zoning patterns identified along the Bulldog Mountain vein system also parallel larger scale zoning patterns across the central and southern Creede district.The complex variations in mineral assemblages documented in time and space along the Bulldog Mountain vein system were produced by the combined effects of many processes. Large-scale changes in vein mineralogy over time produced discrete mineralization stages. Short-term mineralogical fluctuations produced complex interbanding of mineralogically distinct generations. Fluid chemistry evolution within the vein system produced large-scale lateral zoning patterns within certain stages. Hypogene leaching substantially modified the distributions of some minerals. Finally, structural activity, mineral deposition, and mineral leaching modified fluid flow pathways repeatedly during mineralization, and so added to the complex mineral distribution patterns within the vein system.

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