Roles of Regional Structures and Country-Rock Facies in Defining Mineral Belts in Central Idaho Mineral Province with Detail for Yellow Pine and Thunder Mountain Mining Districts

Professional Paper 1884
Mineral Resources Program
By: , and 



The central Idaho metallogenic province hosts numerous mineral deposit types. These include Late Cretaceous precious-polymetallic vein deposits, amagmatic Paleocene–Eocene breccia-hosted gold-tungsten-antimony deposits, and Eocene mercury deposits in metasedimentary roof pendants and in Late Cretaceous granitoids. Hot-springs gold deposits in Eocene volcanic rocks are also included in the central Idaho province. New sensitive high mass-resolution ion microprobe (SHRIMP) uranium-lead (U-Pb) ages for igneous rocks and for detrital zircon analyses of metasedimentary rocks along with geologic mapping clarify the geologic framework of the mineral deposits. This framework includes (1) structural controls for regional distribution of mining districts, (2) progressive structural development of individual districts, (3) regional sedimentary facies and their control of metals associations resulting in regional belts, and (4) influences of the several regional magmatic events.

In central Idaho, 15 mining districts form two clusters that are grouped about a 200-kilometer (km) long system of normal faults. The northwestern cluster is in the regional hanging wall west of large, west-side-down faults, and the mineral deposits are located along smaller faults and fractures that cut the regional hanging wall. The southeastern cluster is in the regional hanging wall east of a linked large east-side-down fault and along and controlled by related hanging wall faults. At the southern extent of the regional fault system, the Yellow Pine-Thunder Mountain districts span a nearly 24-km-wide, east-tilted crustal block of normal-fault dominoes, exposing original crustal depths from 5 to 10 km deep on the west in the Late Cretaceous to shallow-surface depths on the east in the Eocene.

Ore deposition in the northwestern district cluster was primarily Late Cretaceous and related to Idaho batholith plutons with only a single deposit related to a small Eocene intrusion; in the southeastern cluster, most deposits were initiated in the Late Cretaceous but with varying manifestations of overprinted Eocene mineralization activity. In the Yellow Pine-Thunder Mountain districts at the southern extent of the southern cluster, several mineralizing pulses occurred during hanging-wall collapse, such that (1) early deposits were multiply overprinted and (2) deposit depths, ages, and structural characteristics change progressively eastward. Originally deep-seated western Yellow Pine district deposits are Late Cretaceous viscoplastic mesothermal veins overprinted by Paleocene and Eocene breccia-hosted epithermal deposits. Central Yellow Pine district deposits contain early deeper vein systems but are primarily Paleocene and Eocene breccia-hosted epithermal deposits in Late Cretaceous plutonic rocks and Proterozoic–Paleozoic roof pendant rocks. Eastern district deposits are Eocene hot-springs-related deposits in the roof pendant. Thunder Mountain deposits farthest east are near-surface hot-springs deposits in Eocene volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks that overlie buried Cretaceous igneous and older roof pendant rocks.

The mining district clusters are sited across several northwest-striking paleostratigraphic belts that are exposed in roof pendants and are offset by the regional normal fault system. A northeastern belt is Mesoproterozoic strata associated with gold-silver-copper±cobalt deposits. A central belt of Neoproterozoic rocks is not associated with mineral deposits in the central Idaho mineral province. A southwestern belt composed of probable Paleozoic deep-water miogeoclinal slope rocks and late Paleozoic epicratonic basinal rocks is thin and narrowly exposed but associated with gold-silver-antimony-tungsten±mercury deposits. These metasedimentary rocks (and their metal associations) are parts of regional mineral belts in which metal endowments are related to particular sedimentary facies belts and their Cretaceous thrust-fault juxtaposition and where these features have proximity to Late Cretaceous or Eocene igneous rocks. Offset and preservation or erosional stripping of these facies belts, thrust plates, igneous settings, and the associated regional mineral belts were controlled by the sense and magnitude of displacements across the regional normal-fault system.

Suggested Citation

Lund, K., Aleinikoff, J.N., and Holm-Denoma, C., 2023, Roles of regional structures and country-rock facies in defining mineral belts in central Idaho mineral province with detail for Yellow Pine and Thunder Mountain mining districts (ver. 1.1, September 2023): U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1884, 53 p.,

ISSN: 2330-7102 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Characteristics of Central Idaho Mining Districts
  • Metasedimentary Country-Rock Characteristics
  • Igneous Events in Relation to Crustal and Deposit Settings
  • Regional Normal Faults
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Roles of regional structures and country-rock facies in defining mineral belts in central Idaho mineral province with detail for Yellow Pine and Thunder Mountain mining districts
Series title Professional Paper
Series number 1884
DOI 10.3133/pp1884
Edition Version 1.0: August 29, 2023; Version 1.1: September 6, 2023
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center
Description Report: vii, 53 p.; Data Release
Country United States
State Idaho
Other Geospatial Yellow Pine and Thunder Mountain Mining Districts
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details