Active Geothermal Systems And Associated Gold Deposits In The Great Basin

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Conference Paper: Active Geothermal Systems And Associated Gold Deposits In The Great Basin

In western North America, a number of geothermal systems derive their heat from magmas or cooling intrusions. The interior of the Great Basin however, is characterized by widespread amagmatic geothermal activity that owes its existence to high crustal heat flow and active extensional tectonics. Both the magmatically heated and extensional fluid types in the Great Basin have recently, or are currently, depositing gold. Quaternary to Pliocene-aged gold deposits with adjacent high-temperature (≤ 150°C) active geothermal systems occur at Long Valley, California, and Florida Canyon, Wind Mountain, Dixie Valley, and other locations in Nevada. Prolonged uplift of mineralized zones along range-front faults suggests that these geothermal systems, although possibly episodic, have lifetimes measured in millions of years. The total known gold inventory in deposits younger than 7 Ma in the Great Basin exceeds 12 million ounces. Many Great Basin geothermal systems are aligned along northeast-trending belts hundreds of kilometers long that are likely related to ongoing northwest-directed crustal extension. However, the highest-temperature extensional systems and the most productive young gold deposits are aligned along northwest trends sub-parallel to the dextral Walker Lane shear zone. A transitional transtensional setting in which right-lateral fault motion along the Walker Lane splays into extensional northeast-striking normal fault systems may promote deep fracturing and the circulation and heating of meteoric fluids to form hydrothermal systems and gold deposits.

Mark Coolbaugh, Greg Arehart, Jim Faulds, Larry Garside and Lisa Shevenell

GRC, 2005

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Mark Coolbaugh,Greg Arehart,Jim Faulds,Larry Garside,Lisa Shevenell. 2005. Active Geothermal Systems And Associated Gold Deposits In The Great Basin. In: (!) ; (!) ; (!) . (!) : GRC; p. (!)