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McCoy, D.T., 2000

Mid-Cretaceous plutonic-related gold deposits of interior Alaska: Characteristics, metallogenesis, gold-associative mineralogy, and geochronology

Bibliographic Reference

McCoy, D.T., 2000, Mid-Cretaceous plutonic-related gold deposits of interior Alaska: Characteristics, metallogenesis, gold-associative mineralogy, and geochronology: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Ph.D. dissertation, 177 p., illust., maps.


Mid-Cretaceous gold deposits in interior Alaska are hosted in or near apices of low magnetite plutons that formed in a broad continental arc. Ore is hosted in (1) anastomosing quartz veins with potassic or albitic envelopes, (2) planar veins and shear zones with sericitic alteration, and (3) pyroxene-rich skarn deposits. This study was undertaken to constrain the fluid and metal source and composition, formation conditions, gold associative mineralogy, age relationships, and areal extent of this mineralizing event. Techniques included reflected light petrographic, 40Ar/39Ar step-heating, stable isotope, fire assay, Mossbauer spectroscopy, electron microprobe, and scanning ion mass spectroscopy analysis. Results suggest ages between 85 Ma and 107 Ma with a 0 to 2 million-year differential between magmatic biotite and hydrothermal veins in the same deposits. Deposits are 10 to 20 million years younger than local metamorphism. Fluid calculated stable isotopic ratios (13C = -9 to -10 per mil; 18O = 5-10 per mil; D = -47 to -100; 34S = -5 to +5 per mil) suggest gold precipitated from magmatic fluids. Fluid inclusions in ore-bearing quartz contain high CO2 with trapping temperatures and pressures of 270 to 570 degrees C and 0.5 to 2 kb, respectively. The Fort Knox and Pogo deposits have a strong Au-Bi association and high relative amounts of potassic and albitic alteration with mineralogical evidence for the original existence of maldonite (Au2Bi) or Au-Bi melt subsequently overprinted by native gold + bismuthinite. The True North deposit has a strong Au-As association and no Au-Bi association. It lacks potassic or albitic alteration and contains only submicron gold, approximately half chemically bound to arsenopyrite or arsenian pyrite. The Dolphin and Ryan Lode deposits are intermediate in Au-Bi association, gold-associative mineralogy, and alteration features. Arsenopyrite geothermometry yields temperatures between 300 and 630 degrees C for albitic and potassic alteration and between 250 and 420 degrees C for sericitic alteration. 40Ar/39Ar dating and metal ratios suggest that gold mineralization is (1) solely mid-Cretaceous in the Fairbanks mining district, (2) mid-Cretaceous and Late Cretaceous in the Kantishna mining district, and (3) mid-Cretaceous and early Tertiary in the Livengood district.

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