Geologic Control on Acidic and Metal-Rich Waters in the Southeast Red Mountains Area, Near Silverton, Colorado
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Jan 1, 2000
A really extensive acid sulfate-altered and mineralized rock in the southeast Red Mountains area is noted for its association with naturally occurring and mine-related acidic and metal-rich waters. Integrated geologic and aqueous geochemical studies demonstrate that the degree of metal mobilization and acid production in natural waters correlates well with the type of hydrothermally altered rock and structural features in which these water interact. Quartz-sericite-pyrite, quartz-alunite, and argillic alteration assemblages are associated with some of the most naturally acidic, high-metal waters in the study area; calcite-bearing propylitic rocks are related to the most pristine waters and buffer sulfate-rich, acidic waters produced by pyrite oxidation. Trace metals in natural waters are mostly derived from enargite, zinc-rich tetrahedrite and sphalerite. Pyrite oxidation contributes very little with respect to base-metals in these natural waters.