Structural reconstruction and age of an extensionally faulted porphyry molybdenum system at Spruce Mountain, Elko County, Nevada

James R. Pape, Eric Seedorff, Tyler C. Baril, Tommy B. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This study integrates a cross-sectional restoration of normal faults and porphyry- related hydrothermal alteration zones with six new U-Pb zircon dates to constrain the ages of mineralization and large-magnitude Cenozoic extension at Spruce Mountain, northeastern Nevada (USA). Paleozoic sedimentary rocks and sparse rhyolitic intrusive rocks host a porphyry molybdenum deposit dated as ca. 38 Ma that contains associated skarn, carbonate replacements, fissure veins, and jasperoid. At least six crosscutting sets of normal faults with variable dip directions (east, west, and north) and angles (<15° to > 60°) are identified at Spruce Mountain, reflecting overprinting phases of extension. Based on the restored cross section, normal faulting at Spruce Mountain resulted in ~6.9 km (120%) of total extension and ~35° of net eastward tilting. The first four fault sets, late Eocene (ca. 38 Ma) or older, collectively accommodate most of the total extension (~5.4 km). Later faults probably were active in the Miocene and Quaternary. All restored faults had initial dips of 45° or greater, and the restored preextensional structure of Spruce Mountain consists of west-vergent folds and gentle westward dips of Paleozoic rocks. Spruce Mountain is classified as a rhyolitic porphyry Mo or Climax-type deposit, with extensive skarn. Eocene rhyolite porphyry dikes associated with porphyry Mo mineralization locally intrude the early generations of normal faults at Spruce Mountain. However, many normal faults also postdate molybdenum mineralization and have partially dismembered the system. Cross-sectional restoration of the postmineralization faulting suggests that the original deposit had an ~6 km long by ~3 km deep elliptical pattern with carbonate replacement deposits surrounding skarn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-263
Number of pages27
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


Dive into the research topics of 'Structural reconstruction and age of an extensionally faulted porphyry molybdenum system at Spruce Mountain, Elko County, Nevada'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this