The Jerritt Canyon mining district in the northern Independence Range, northern Nevada, contains multiple, nearly horizontal, thrust masses of platform carbonate rocks that are exposed in a series of north- to northeast-elongated, tectonic windows through rocks of the Roberts Mountains allochthon. The Roberts Mountains allochthon was emplaced during the Late Devonian to Early Mississippian Antler orogeny. These thrust masses contain structurally and stratigraphically controlled Carlin-type gold deposits. The gold deposits are hosted in tectonically truncated units of the Silurian to Devonian Hanson Creek and Roberts Mountains Formations that lie within structural slices of an Eastern assemblage of Cambrian to Devonian carbonate rocks. In addition, these multiply thrust-faulted and folded host rocks are structurally interleaved with Mississippian siliciclastic rocks and are overlain structurally by Cambrian to Devonian siliciclastic units of the Roberts Mountains allochthon. All sedimentary rocks were involved in thrusting, high-angle faulting, and folding, and some of these events indicate substantial late Paleozoic and/or Mesozoic regional shortening. Early Pennsylvanian and late Eocene dikes also intrude the sedimentary rocks. These rocks all were uplifted into a northeast-trending range by subsequent late Cenozoic Basin and Range faulting. Eocene sedimentary and volcanic rocks flank part of the range.
Pathways of hydrothermal fluid flow and locations of Carlin-type gold orebodies in the Jerritt Canyon mining district were controlled by structural and host-rock geometries within specific lithologies of the stacked thrust masses of Eastern assemblage rocks. The gold deposits are most common proximal to intersections of northeast-striking faults, northwest-striking dikes, and thrust planes that lie adjacent to permeable stratigraphic horizons. The host stratigraphic units include carbonate sequences that contained primary intercrystalline permeability, which provided initial pathways for fluid flow and later served as precipitation sites for ore minerals. Alteration, during, and perhaps prior to mineralization, enhanced primary permeability by dissolution, by removal of calcite, and by formation of dolomite. Ore-stage sulfide minerals and alteration minerals commonly precipitated in pore spaces among dolomite grains. Microveinlets and microbrecciation in zones of intense alteration also provided networks of secondary permeability that further enhanced fluid flux and produced additional sites for ore deposition.