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Open-File Report 01-151

Use of Structural Geology in Exploration for and Mining of Sedimentary Rock-Hosted Au Deposits

By Stephen G. Peters

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (14.3 MB)Abstract

Structural geology is an important component in regional-, district- and orebody-scale exploration and development of sedimentary rock-hosted Au deposits.Identification of timing of important structural events in an ore district allows analysis and classification of fluid conduits and construction of genetic models for ore formation.The most practical uses of structural geology deal with measurement and definition of various elements that comprise orebodies, which can then be directly applied to ore-reserve estimation,ground control,grade control, safety issues,and mine planning.District- and regional-scale structural studies are directly applicable to long-term strategic planning,economic analysis,and land ownership.

Orebodies in sedimentary rock-hosted Au deposits are discrete, hypogene, epigenetic masses usually hosted in a fault zone,breccia mass, or lithologic bed or unit. These attributes allow structural geology to be directly applied to the mining and exploration of sedimentary rock-hosted Au deposits. Internal constituents in orebodies reflect unique episodes relating to ore formation.The main internal constituents in orebodies are ore minerals, gangue, and alteration minerals that usually are mixed with one another in complex patterns, the relations among which may be used to interpret the processes of orebody formation and control.Controls of orebody location and shape usually are due to structural dilatant zones caused by changes in attitude, splays, lithologic contacts,and intersections of the host conduit or unit.In addition,conceptual parameters such as district fabric,predictable distances, and stacking also are used to understand the geometry of orebodies.Controls in ore districts and location and geometry of orebodies in ore districts can be predicted to various degrees by using a number of qualitative concepts such as internal and external orebody plunges,district plunge, district stacking, conduit classification, geochemical, geobarometric and geothermal gradients, and tectonic warps. These concepts have practical and empirical application in most mining districts where they are of use in the exploration for ore, but are of such broad and general application that they may not represent known or inferred ore formation processes. Close spatial relation among some sedimentary rock- hosted Au deposits and their host structures suggests that the structures and the orebodies are genetically linked because they may have shared the same developmental history. Examples of probable syn-deformational genesis and structural control of sedimentary rock-hosted Au deposits are in the large Betze deposit in the Carlin trend, Nevada and in the Lannigou, Jinlongshan, and Maanqiao Au deposits, China.

First posted June 11, 2001

For additional information, contact:
Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road, MS 901
Menlo Park, CA 94025-3591

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Suggested citation:

Peters. Stephen G., 2001, Use of Structural Geology in Exploration for and Mining of Sedimentary Rock-Hosted Au Deposits: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 01-151, 40 pp.,




Application of Structural Geology

Internal Constituents

Structural Control of Orebody Location and Shape

District-Scale Controls

Orogenic Sedimentary Rock-Hosted Au Deposits

Stages of Syn-Deformational Orebody Development

Discussions and Conclusions



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