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Open-File Report 2010-1008

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Characterization of Geologic Structures and Host Rock Properties Relevant to the Hydrogeology of the Standard Mine in Elk Basin, Gunnison County, Colorado

By Jonathan Saul Caine, Andrew H. Manning, Byron R. Berger, Yannick Kremer, Mario A. Guzman, Dennis D. Eberl, and Kathryn Schuller


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The Standard Mine Superfund Site is a source of mine drainage and associated heavy metal contamination of surface and groundwaters. The site contains Tertiary polymetallic quartz veins and fault zones that host precious and base metal sulfide mineralization common in Colorado. To assist the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its effort to remediate mine-related contamination, we characterized geologic structures, host rocks, and their potential hydraulic properties to better understand the sources of contaminants and the local hydrogeology. Real time kinematic and handheld global positioning systems were used to locate and map precisely the geometry of the surface traces of structures and mine-related features, such as portals. New reconnaissance geologic mapping, field and x-ray diffraction mineralogy, rock sample collection, thin-section analysis, and elemental geochemical analysis were completed to characterize hydrothermal alteration, mineralization, and subsequent leaching of metallic phases. Surface and subsurface observations, fault vein and fracture network characterization, borehole geophysical logging, and mercury injection capillary entry pressure data were used to document potential controls on the hydrologic system.

First posted March 5, 2010

For additional information contact:

Team Chief Scientist,
USGS Crustal Imaging and Characterization
Box 25046, Mail Stop 964
Denver, CO 80225

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Suggested citation:

Caine, J.S., Manning, A.H., Berger, B.R., Kremer, Y., Guzman, M.A., Eberl. D.D., and Schuller, K., 2010, Characterization of geologic structures and host rock properties relevant to the hydrogeology of the Standard Mine in Elk Basin, Gunnison County, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1008, 56 p.




Definitions of Brittle Structures

Site Description

Location, Ecosystem, and Climate

Geological and Hydrological Overview


Reconnaissance Geologic Mapping

Fault Zone Characterization

Borehole Geophysical Logging

Drill Core Logging

Estimates of Intergranular Porosity and Permeability by MICP

55-Element ICP–AES–MS Rock Geochemistry

Mineralogy by X-Ray Diffraction

Observations and Data

Map to Sample Scale Features

Stratigraphy, Bedforms, Lithologic Contacts, and Geomorphology

Spot Mineralogy, Petrography, and Alteration

Ground Surface Elevation Gradients as a Proxy for Surface and Groundwater Flow


Geologic Structures

Joints and Televiewer Log Data

Faults, Fault Veins, and Fault-Related Fluid Flow


Summary of Key Observations and Hypotheses



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