National mineral assessment tract GB11 (Porphyry Cu (North America))

Tract GB11
Geographic region Great Basin
Tract area 19,300sq km
Deposit type Porphyry Cu (North America)
Deposit age Middle Tertiary

Deposit model

Model code 17
Model type descriptive
Title Descriptive model of porphyry Cu
Authors Dennis P. Cox


Confidence Number of
90% 1
50% 3
10% 6
5% 8
1% 11

Estimators: Stoeser, Nutt, Albino, Ludington, Wallace, Nash, Berger, Spanski


Explained by Douglas B. Stoeser
On the choice of deposit models
Several belts of Tertiary calc-alkaline igneous rocks, including plutons and associated volcanic rocks, with related porphyry copper, polymetallic vein and replacement, and skarn deposits are exposed in western Utah. The North American subset of the worldwide grade and tonnage model (Mark3 index 81) was used for the quantitative assessment.
On the delineation of permissive tracts
Two permissive tracts were recognized for porphyry copper deposits in Utah. The basis for delineating these tracts are the occurrence of Tertiary calc-alkaline intermediate to silicic intrusive rocks, associated volcanic rocks, and intrusive-related mineral deposits (porphyry copper, polymetallic vein and replacement, and skarn). The two tracts are defined by east-west-trending Tertiary dominantly calc-alkaline magmatic belts in the western part of the State, and they contain most of the significant base and precious metal deposits of Utah (Shawe and Stewart, 1976; Seedorff, 1991). In the north, two adjacent belts, the Oquirrh-Uinta belt and the Tintic-Deep Creek belt, combine to form the permissive tract. The igneous rocks here range in age from approximately 43 to 32 Ma, and range from intermediate to silicic. The silicic volcanic rocks are mainly associated with ash-flow calderas (Steven and Rowley, 1984; Best, 1989; Stoeser, 1993). These igneous rocks are relatively deeply eroded, such that the majority of the once extensive volcanic rocks of the area have been removed. Because of the deep erosion level, the area has significant amounts of exposed plutonic rocks, and is characterized by mineral deposits related directly to intrusive centers. The northernmost part of this tract, in the extreme northwest corner of Utah, contains local volcanic rocks with minor intrusive rocks. It should be noted that the tract is approximately 70 percent covered by alluvium. Aeromagnetic surveys were used to define areas of high magnetics that might indicate intrusions at depth. A few minor base and precious metal occurrences associated with small intrusions are located in the eastern Uinta Mountains, but this area was considered to have insignificant mineral potential for intrusive-related deposits and was not considered in the estimates for this tract.
Important examples of this type of deposit
Utah contains one of the largest and richest porphyry copper deposits in the world at Bingham Canyon (Lanier and others, 1978). This, however, is the only porphyry copper deposit that has been exploited in the State. Six other prospects occur in the northern permissive tract, (Park Premier, Southwest Tintic, West Tintic, Detroit, Dugway, and Gold Hill), and some of them could become significant deposits if they were fully explored.
On the numerical estimates made
Estimates of numbers of undiscovered deposits took into account the distribution of known deposits and prospects, beliefs about the extent and efficiency of past mineral exploration, and the large proportion of the permissive tract that is covered by alluvium. For the 90th, 50th, 10th, 5th, and 1st percentiles, the team estimated 1, 3, 6, 8, and 11 deposits consistent with the grade and tonnage model for the North American subset of porphyry copper deposits.
Best, M.G., Christiansen, E.H., Deino, A.L., Grommé, C.S., McKee, E.H., and Noble, D.C., 1989, Excursion 3A—Eocene through Miocene volcanism in the Great Basin of the western United States, in Chapin, C.E. and Zidek, Jiri, eds., Field excursion to volcanic terranes in the western United States, Volume II—Cascades and Intermountain West: New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources Memoir 47, p. 91-133.
Lanier, George, John, E.C., Swenson, A.J., Reid, Julia, Bard, C.E., Caddy, S.W., and Wilson, J.C., 1978, General geology of the Bingham mine, Bingham Canyon, Utah: Economic Geology, v. 73, no. 7, p. 1228-1241.
Seedorff, Eric, 1991, Magmatism, extension, and ore deposits of Eocene to Holocene age in the Great Basin—Mutual effects and preliminary proposed genetic relationships, in Raines, G.L., Lisle, R.E., Schafer, R.W., and Wilkinson, W.H., eds., Geology and ore deposits of the Great Basin—Symposium proceedings: Reno, Geological Society of Nevada, p. 133-178.
Shawe, D.R., and Stewart, J.H., 1976, Ore deposits as related to tectonics and magmatism, Nevada and Utah: Transactions of Society of Mining Engineers, v. 260, p. 225-231.
Steven, T.A., and Rowley, P.D., 1984, Calderas of the Marysvale volcanic field, west central Utah: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 89, p. 8751-8764.
Stoeser, D.B., 1993, Tertiary calderas and regional extension of the east-central part of the Tintic-Deep Creek Mineral Belt, eastern Great Basin, in Scott, R.W., Jr., Detra, T.S., and Berger, B.R., eds., Advances related to United States and international mineral resources—Developing frameworks and exploration technologies: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2039, Chap. A, p. 5-23.

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