Blue Ridge placers

Region East, Southeast
Mineral systems
Deposit types
Critical minerals
Other minerals

Information leading to the delineation of this focus area

Basis for focus area Placer deposits and host source rocks: quartzites and gneiss in the high-grade rocks in the Blue Ridge of southwestern North Carolina contain appreciable amounts of gold, ilmenite, rutile, and monazite.
Identified resources Indicated resources of titanium. Historical production of gold, REE (monazite), and titanium (ilmenite and rutile).
Production Unknown.
Status Past mining.
Estimated resources Shooting Creek placer deposit: estimated 172,000 tons of concentrates with 40% recoverable TiO2.
Geologic maps Hadley and Nelson (1971), scale 1:250,000; Merschat (2009), scale 1:50,000; Herz and Force (1987), scale 1:24,000; D'Agostino and others (1994), scale 1:250,000.
Geophysical data Inadequate aeromagnetic and aeroradiometric data: aeromagnetic data Rank 3 and 5; aeroradiometric Rank 3-5.
Favorable rocks and structures Carolina gneiss, Shooting Creek schist, Rainbow Spring quartzite (R.D. Hatcher, Jr., unpublished mapping; Merschat, 2009) are possible source rocks. Granite, pegmatite and granitic orthogneiss in the Piedmont are the principal sources of monazite and xenotime (Mertie, 1953).
Deposits Many small gold, monazite, and ilmenite/rutile placers.
Evidence from mineral occurrences MRDS; Mertie (1975); Overstreet and others (1968).
Geochemical evidence Mertie (1975) reports on panned samples from the Piedmont.
Geophysical evidence Radiometric eTh highs over surrounding rock where data available.
Evidence from other sources Unknown.
Comments Monazite was mined from modern stream and river alluvial deposits in the Piedmont between 1887 and 1917 (Mertie, 1975). Past producer in areas that might be mined again although deposits may be smaller. Native gold in placers started a small gold rush in the Piedmont in the 1800s.
Cover thickness and description Alluvium up to 10 m thick or more.
Authors Arthur J. Merschat, Anjana K. Shah.
New data needs Geophysical data, geologic mapping, and geochemical analyses.
Geologic mapping and modeling needs Locally additional bedrock and surficial geologic mapping may be needed. Existing maps provide sufficient information.
Geophysical survey and modeling needs Detailed radiometric data to assist locations of heavy mineral sand deposits.
Digital elevation data needs Lidar adequate.