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U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1795–C

Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska, 2011
Prepared in cooperation with Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Effect of Ultramafic Intrusions and Associated Mineralized Rocks on the Aqueous Geochemistry of the Tangle Lakes Area, Alaska

By Bronwen Wang, Larry P. Gough, Richard B. Wanty, Gregory K. Lee, James Vohden, J. Michael O’Neill, and L. Jack Kerin

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (2.5 MB)Abstract

Stream water was collected at 30 sites within the Tangle Lakes area of the Delta mineral belt in Alaska. Sampling focused on streams near the ultramafic rocks of the Fish Lake intrusive complex south of Eureka Creek and the Tangle Complex area east of Fourteen Mile Lake, as well as on those within the deformed metasedimentary, metavolcanic, and intrusive rocks of the Specimen Creek drainage and drainages east of Eureka Glacier. Major, minor, and trace elements were analyzed in aqueous samples for this reconnaissance aqueous geochemistry effort. The lithologic differences within the study area are reflected in the major-ion chemistry of the water. The dominant major cation in streams draining mafic and ultramafic rocks is Mg2+; abundant Mg and low Ca in these streams reflect the abundance of Mg-rich minerals in these intrusions. Nickel and Cu are detected in 84 percent and 87 percent of the filtered samples, respectively. Nickel and Cu concentrations ranged from Ni <0.4 to 10.1 micrograms per liter (mg/L), with a median of 4.2 mg/L, and Cu <0.5 to 27 mg/L, with a median of 1.2 mg/L. Trace-element concentrations in water are generally low relative to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency freshwater aquatic-life criteria; however, Cu concentrations exceed the hardness-based criteria for both chronic and acute exposure at some sites. The entire rare earth element (REE) suite is found in samples from the Specimen Creek sites MH5, MH4, and MH6 and, with the exception of Tb and Tm, at site MH14. These samples were all collected within drainages containing or downstream from Tertiary gabbro, diabase, and metagabbro (Trgb) exposures. Chondrite and source rock fractionation profiles for the aqueous samples were light rare earth element depleted, with negative Ce and Eu anomalies, indicating fractionation of the REE during weathering. Fractionation patterns indicate that the REE are primarily in the dissolved, as opposed to colloidal, phase.

First posted December 2, 2013

For additional information, contact:
Alaska Science Center staff
U.S. Geological Survey
4210 University Dr.
Anchorage, AK 99508
Alaska Mineral Resources
Alaska Science Center

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Suggested citation:

Wang, B., Gough, L., Wanty, R.B., Lee, G.K., Vohden, J., O’Neill, J.M., and Kerin, L.J., 2013, Effect of ultramafic intrusions and associated mineralized rocks on the aqueous geochemistry of the Tangle Lakes Area, Alaska, in Dumoulin, J.A., and Dusel-Bacon, C., eds., Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska, 2011: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1795–C, 16 p.,

ISSN 2330-7102 (online)




Study Area

Sampling Sites

Results and Discussion


References Cited

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