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Alaska Mineral Resources

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Western Alaska Range Metallogeny and Tectonics


    This project is designed to produce an improved model of the geologic framework underpinning the Western Alaska Range in south-central Alaska. Numerous ore deposits are present in this region, and most appear to be associated with magmatic events, but work needs to be done to identify the ages and types of mineral deposits in relation to their host rocks. In addition, detailed geologic studies are needed to delineate the magmatic, stratigraphic, and tectonic differences that distinguish this area from adjacent geologic terranes. Field mapping, geochronology, thermochronology, geochemical analyses, and geophysical data will all contribute to an improved understanding of the relationship between ore deposits and tectonic architecture that is critical to an assessment of the overall mineral potential of the area.




    Relevance and Impact

    There are many different types of mineral deposits present in the Western Alaska Range: plutonic gold, porphyry copper-gold (Pebble prospect), epithermal gold, tin-silver skarns, sedimentary barite, mafic hosted nickle-PGE, uranium-thorium REE, and even a diamond prospect. All of these have been the targets of recent exploration efforts, but their relationships to the regional magmatic belts and stratigraphy is not known. This work will put these mineral deposits into a regional magmatic and tectonic framework, which is the best predictor of mineral occurrence. It is our experience that providing such information will be of great value to mineral exploration companies and land managers.

    It is in the interest of the USGS and the Mineral Resources Program to support research that contributes to our understanding of the framework geology of Alaska when those studies contribute to improved assessments of undiscovered resources. The proposed work will contribute to the long-term goals of the Mineral Resources Program, which strives to reduce the uncertainty in mineral-resource assessments. The Nation will have more accurate estimates of the national mineral endowment as improvements are made concerning the distribution of these deposits, their age, and genetic processes that define the localization of the mineralizing events.


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