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Magnetotelluric Survey to Locate the Archean/Proterozoic Suture Zone North of Wells, Nevada

By Jackie M. Williams and Brian D. Rodriguez

It is important to know whether major mining districts in the Northern Nevada Gold Province are underlain by rocks of the Archean Wyoming craton, which are known to contain orogenic gold deposits, or by accreted rocks of the Paleoproterozoic Mojave province. It is also important to know the location and orientation of the Archean/Proterozoic suture zone between these provinces as well as major basement structures within these terranes because they may influence subsequent patterns of sedimentation, deformation, magmatism, and hydrothermal activity. The Archean was the main gold-mineralization period, and Archean lode-gold deposits were formed at mid-crustal depths along major shear zones.

The nature of the crystalline basement below the Northern Nevada Gold Province and the location of major faults within it are relevant to Rodinian reconstructions, crustal development, and ore deposit models (e.g., Hofstra and Cline, 2000; Grauch and others, 2003). According to Whitmeyer and Karlstrom (2004), the Archean cratons of the northwestern United States and Canada had stabilized as continental lithosphere by 2.5 Ga, and were rifted and assembled into a large continental mass by 1.8 Ga, to which the 1.73-1.68 Ga Mohave province was accreted by 1.65 Ga. The Archean/Proterozoic suture zone has a west-southwest strike where it is exposed (Reed, 1993) at the eastern Utah and southwestern Wyoming border (Cheyenne Belt) where it is characterized by an up to 7-km-thick mylonite zone (Smithson and Boyd, 1998). In the Great Basin, the strike of the Archean/Proterozoic suture zone is poorly constrained because it is largely concealed below a Neoproterozoic-Paleozoic miogeocline and basin fill. East-west and southwest-northeast strikes for the Archean/Proterozoic suture zone have been inferred based on Sr, Nd, and Pb isotopic compositions of granitoid intrusions (Tosdal and others, 2000). To better constrain the location and strike of the Archean/Proterozoic suture zone below cover, three regional north-south magnetotelluric (MT) sounding profiles were acquired in western Utah and northeastern Nevada (Williams and Rodriguez, 2003; 2004; 2005), and one east-west MT sounding profile (fig. 1) MT sounding profile was acquired in northeastern Nevada. Resistivity modeling of the MT data can be used to investigate buried structures or sutures that may have influenced subsequent regional fluid flow and localized mineralization. The purpose of this report is to release the MT sounding data collected along the east-west profile in northeastern Nevada; no interpretation of the data is included. logo