Sources of metals and sulfur in the mineral deposits of central Idaho, United States

Kuppusamy Panneerselvam, Florida International University


A variety of mineral deposits occur in the Paleozoic sedimentary rocks and Late Cretaceous granitic rocks of central Idaho. The main objective of this project is to identify the sources of metals and sulfur in central Idaho ores. Lead isotope compositions of various crustal rocks were determined and compared with the ore lead composition in order to trace sources of lead, and by inference other metals. Sulfur isotope compositions of various sulfide minerals were also determined to trace the sources of sulfur and to explore the coupling or decoupling of metal and sulfur sources. On the basis of lead and sulfur isotope compositions, two groups of ores are recognized: a sedimentary group and an igneous group. The sedimentary group ores are characterized by radiogenic lead and heavy sulfur typical of upper crustal rocks. The sedimentary group ores were formed by meteoric water-dominated hydrothermal systems that leached metals and sulfur from host Paleozoic sedimentary rocks and the underlying Precambrian crystalline basement rocks. The igneous group ores can be divided into two types, the Carrietown-type, and the non Carrietown-type. The Carrietown-type ores are isotopically different from their host granites and are characterized by low uranogenic lead isotope ratios (206Pb/204Pb and 207Pb/ 204Pb) and variable thorogenic lead isotope ratios (208Pb/ 204Pb) typical of lower crustal rocks. The non Carrietown-type ores are similar to host granites and are more radiogenic in their uranogenic lead isotope ratios when compared to the Carrietown-type ores. The differences in the lead isotope compositions of the igneous group ores are attributed to two different phases of magmatic activity. The magmatic phase exposed on the surface involved melting of shallow crustal Precambrian crystalline rocks as well as mid/lower crustal rocks while the underlying phase was derived by melting of mid/lower crustal rocks only. Igneous group ores have both light and heavy sulfur associated with them and it is a function of interaction of hydrothermal fluids with Paleozoic sedimentary rocks. Paleozoic sedimentary rocks and Precambrian basement rocks are the sources of radiogenic lead, and the granites are the sources of light sulfur. Heavy sulfur comes almost entirely from Paleozoic sedimentary rocks.

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Recommended Citation

Panneerselvam, Kuppusamy, "Sources of metals and sulfur in the mineral deposits of central Idaho, United States" (2001). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3018476.