Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska, 2007
Photograph of mineralized drill core from the Little Whiteman base- and precious-metal carbonate replacement prospect in the Fortymile mining district, eastern Alaska. Coarse sphalerite (dark-gray) and minor galena (light gray) occur in a gangue (white) of calcite and lesser quartz (USGS photograph by John Slack).
We present here the initial results of a petrographic, geochemical, and isotopic study of Mesozoic intrusive rocks and spatially associated Zn-Pb-Ag-Cu-Au prospects in the Fortymile mining district in the southern Eagle quadrangle, Alaska. Analyzed samples include mineralized and unmineralized drill core from 2006 and 2007 exploration by Full Metal Minerals, USA, Inc., at the Little Whiteman (LWM) and Fish prospects, and other mineralized and plutonic samples collected within the mining district is part of the USGS study. Three new ion microprobe U-Pb zircon ages are: 210 ± 3 Ma for quartz diorite from LWM, 187 ± 3 Ma for quartz monzonite from Fish, and 70.5 ± 1.1 Ma for altered rhyolite porphyry from Fish. We also present 11 published and unpublished Mesozoic thermal ionization mass spectrometric U-Pb zircon and titanite ages and whole-rock geochemical data for the Mesozoic plutonic rocks. Late Triassic and Early Jurassic plutons generally have intermediate compositions and are slightly foliated, consistent with synkinematic intrusion. Several Early Jurassic plutons contain magmatic epidote, indicating emplacement of the host plutons at mesozonal crustal depths of greater than 15 km. Trace-element geochemical data indicate an arc origin for the granitoids, with an increase in the crustal component with time.
Preliminary study of drill core from the LWM Zn-Pb-Cu-Ag prospect supports a carbonate-replacement model of mineralization. LWM massive sulfides consist of sphalerite, galena, and minor pyrite and chalcopyrite, in a gangue of calcite and lesser quartz; silver resides in Sb-As-Ag sulfosalts and pyrargyrite, and probably in submicroscopic inclusions within galena. Whole-rock analyses of LWM drill cores also show elevated In, an important metal in high-technology products. Hypogene mineralized rocks at Fish, below the secondary Zn-rich zone, are associated with a carbonate host and also may be of replacement origin, or alternatively, may be a magnetite-bearing Zn skarn. Cu-Zn-Pb-Ag-Au showings at the Oscar pros-pect occur in marble-hosted magnetite and pyrrhotite skarn that is spatially related to the stocks, dikes, and sills of the Early Jurassic syenite of Mount Veta. Mineralized rocks at the Eva Creek Ag-Zn-Pb-Cu prospect are within 1.5 km of the Mount Veta pluton, which is epidotized and locally altered along its contact with metamorphosed country rock east of the prospect.
We report five new sulfide Pb-isotopic analyses from the LWM, Oscar, and Eva Creek prospects and compare these sulfide Pb-isotopic ratios with those for sulfides from nearby deposits and prospects in the Yukon-Tanana Upland and with feldspar Pb-isotopic ratios for Mesozoic plutons in the region. Disparities between the Pb-isotopic ratios for sulfides and igneous feldspars are consistent with a carbonate-replacement model for both the LWM and Eva Creek prospects. The presence in the Fortymile district of base-metal sulfides within both calc-silicate-rich skarns and the calc-silicate-free carbonate replacement deposits may reflect multistage mineralization by magmatic-hydrothermal systems during the emplacement of two or more magmatically unrelated igneous intrusions. Alternatively, all of the mineralized occurrences could be products of one regionally zoned system that formed during the intrusion of a single pluton. In addition to the likely origin of some of the base-metal occurrences by intrusion-related hydrothermal fluids, proximity of the LWM prospect to the northeast-striking, high-angle Kechumstuk Fault suggests that fluid flow along the fault also played an important role during carbonate-replacement mineralization.
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