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THE

GEOLOGY

OF THE

AGUILAR

LEAD-ZINC

MINE,

ARGENTINA.

FRANK N. SPENCER, JR.


CONTENTS.
PAGE

Abstract .............................................................. Introduction ......................... ; ...................

'.............

405 406

General geology ....................................................... Sedimentaryrocks ..................................................


Igneous rocks ...................................................... Faulting ........................................................... Mine Geology ......................................................... Ore-bearing horizons ............................................... Faulting and folding ................................................ Contactmetamorphic and pyrometasomatic alteration .......................
Silicate mineralization ..............................................

408 410
412 412 414

416 419 422


423

Origin of the tactite................................................. Relationshipof the tactire to the granite ............................... Ore Deposits ..........................................................
Mineralization ......................................................

425 426 426


426

Paragenesis........................................................ Ore types .......................................................... Factors influencinglocalizationof ore .................................


Calcareous and silicated rocks ..................................... West Branch fault ...............................................

427 427 427


427 428

Canedofault system .............................................. East dipping shear ...............................................


Folds ..........................................................

428 428
429

Distribution.of metal values and zoning ............................... Genesisof the depositand its age relationships............................

429 430
431

Age of mountain buil.ding ............................................


Source of ore mineralization ...... '....................................

430
431 432

Relationship of the depositto the granite mass .......................... Classificationof the deposit ......................................
ABSTRACT.

....

The Aguilar deposit, in northern Argentina, is a hypothermal lead, zinc, silver replacementin Cambrian calcareousquartzite. The rocks had previouslybeen altered to tactite by a granite stockwhose contact is from

150to 250m from the ore bodies. The deposit liesbetween the graniteand
a post-tactite,pre-mineral fault of some 3,000 m displacement. The fault provided the ore channel and also prepared favorable areas for later ore depositionby shearing the calcareousand tactite rocks. Both beddedand shear-zonedepositsare present. The granite and the mineralization are believedto be of late Tertiary age.
405

406

PRANK N. SPENCER, JR.


INTRODUCTION.

Tv. Aguilar Mine, situatedin the Aguilar range of the Andes in northern Argentina,is at presentthe leadingproducerof lead, zinc and silver in that
country.

Althoughthe depositwas known to the Incas, and apparentlyto the early Spanishcolonists 'and the Jesuitsstationedat Yavi near La Quiaca, on the presentArgentine-Bolivianborder, little or no attempt to exploit theseores had been made because of the refractory nature of the unoxidized lead-zinc
rnineralization. An old charcoal smelter of uncertain date, several kilometers

from the presentmine,is believed to represent the oneand only short-lived attemptby the Conquistadores to recoversilverfrom the deposit. Followingthe Colonialperiod,the outcroplay unnoticed until aboutthe periodof the first World War when, due to higher metal prices,renewedinterestin lead and zinc attractedprospectors into this, then isolated,district. Development in a small way by local prospectors continuedfrom that period intermittently until. 1928 when the depositcameto the attentionof its presentowners,the Compafiia Minera Aguilar, S.A. A development programwas initiatedby

thiscompany, whichincluded bothcoredrillingandunderground work,andby 1932 had indicated a substantial tonnageof ore. Low metal pricesduring
the early 30's however,delayedthe installation of a plant and concentrator un-

til 1936. Sincethat year,the minehasproduceddepending uponeconomic


conditions--between150,000 and 280,000 metric tons of crude ore annually.

Location.--TheAguilar districtextends for about10 km alongthe eastern

slopes ofthenorth-south Aguilar range in theProvince ofJujuy. Themine is


connected by a 50 km pavedroadto Tres Cruces, a station of the Argentine StateRailwaybetween the provincial capital, Jujuy,and La Quiaca, whichis some120km northof the mine. Aguilar is 1,900km from Buenos Aires by
rail, and900 from La Paz, Bolivia. The elevation of the mineis 4,450 m (14,-

600ft) at thelowest workings and4,750m (15,600ft) at thehighest outcrop.

The latitude is approximately 23 15' Southand longitude 65 42' West


(Fig. 1). PhysicalFeatures.--TheAndeanregionof northernArgentinais a con-

tinuation of theBolivian "altiplano," a plateau areawith a general elevation in Argentina of between 3,500and4,000m (11,500 to 13,100 ft). Numerous mountain ranges of north-south orientation, rise 1,000m or more,above the plateau surface.A few individual peaks are considerably higher. Mount Chani, nearJujuy,rises to 6,200m (20,300ft). The highest pointin the Aguilarmountains is 5,150m (16,900ft). Many of the ranges are block faulttypewith steep talusslopes andlargealluvial fansspreading intothe

valleys.Othersare of gentler topography on anticlinal structures. The onlyvolcanic peaks in the areaare along the highmountain chain on the
Chileanborderwhichformsthe westernlimit of the altiplanosome150 km
are the low plains of the Chaco.

west-of Aguilar. The eastern margin is between 50 and70 km to the east of themine andis formed by a rugged chain of mountains to theeast of which

Manyof thehigher mountain valleys show glacial action. In theAguilar mountains onlythevalleys of thecentral partof therange show cirques and

GEOLOGY OF THE AGUILAR

LEAD-ZINC

MINE.

407

"U" shaped topography, togetherwith lateral and terminalmoraines. It appears that theglaciers did not extend to elevations lowerthan4,000m.

The valleys of the altiplano are generally alluvium filled,from 10 to 30 km wide,with a fewminorbed-rock hillsrising fromtheirfloors. Much'of theareawest andnorthof Aguilar hasno drainage outlet to the sea. A few

SCALE, KILOHETERS
100

A
21

PIRQUITA

AGUIL

Fro.1. Regional mapof northwest Argentina, ChileandBolivia, showing the


locationof the Aguilar district.

fresh water lakes andswamps exist which eventually drain intosaltbasins or '"salares." Some ofthese areasmuch as15by75kmin area, andareworked
for theirsodium chloride, soda andborate content. The Chilean bordermarks

theeastern limitof thePacific drainage, andtheAguilar mountains thewest-

ern limit ofthe Atlantic system intheimmediate neighborhood ofAguilar. Although thesemi-desert altiplano liesin thesub-tropics, there arenoextremes of temperature. Minimum temperature in thewinterseldom fallsbe-

408

FRANK N. SPENCER,JR.

low 20 F and many daysare pleasantly warm. The summermaximumis

about75 F. The only objectionable featureis the high windswhichmay


blowsteadily for several daysat a time duringthe winter. The rainy season occursduring the summermonthsfrom Decemberto March. Precipitation duringthe rest of the year is usuallylimited to a few light snowfalls in the higher altitudes. Most streamsin the area flow.throughoutthe yearand provideamplewater for the Aguilar mill. Even thoughthe altiplanohas a heavy summerrainfall, it supportslittle vegetation because of the altitudeand the dry winter climate. The mountain areasabove4,500 m elevation are almostbarren. The lower altitudessupport severalspecies of coarsegrasses, tola brush, similar in appearance to North American sage,a species of resinousmosscalled yareta, and several species of cacti. The only tree in the area is the quefia,which grows to a maximumof about3 meters. It is found in minor quantities in a few protectedvalleys,and together with the yaretaprovides fuel for the localIndians. Previous Geolo#icalWork.--As the Aguilar depositwas relatively unknownprior to 1930,few of the earliergeologists who carriedout extensive investigations in Boliviavisitedtheproperty, andno technical information was published untilJohnS. Brown's paper(4) xappeared in 1941. Furthernotes

appeared in hisbook, Ore Genesis (5), published in 1948. Pascual Sgrosso, geologist for theArgentine Direcci6n deMinasy Geologla, described the deposit in a bulletin (13) of that organization, in Spanish, in
1943.

lcknowled#ments.--The author'sgreatestindebtedness is to John S. Brown, much of whoseearly work on the district and mine geology,and

particularly his microscopic work on the mineralogy andparagenesis, which is not acknowledged directlyin the references, hasbeenusedin this paper.
His later advice and criticism have been invaluable. The author wishes to

thank Dr. Paul F. Kerr of Columbia University, and Dr. A. F. Buddingtonof

Princeton Universityfor their reviewals andcriticisms of the paper. The authoralsoexpresses hisappreciation to the management of the Com-

pafiia Minera Aguilar for theirpermission to publish thispaper.


GENERAL GEOLOGY.

The rocksof the Aguilar districtand surrounding area rangefrom Precambrian through Paleozoic and Mesozoic formations to late Tertiary and Pleistocene. In a regional picturethe variousperiods havenot beencorrelated accurately because of the small number of fossils found, andbecause of the reconnaissance natureof the regional geological mapping doneso far. A number of igneous rocks occur, including intrusions of granite, granodiorite

and syenite, and extrusions ofdacite and other lavas. Most oftheigneous rocks
arebelieved to beTertiaryoi-later, butSgrosso (13) andGroeber (7) classify some of thegranites asprobably Permo-Triassic. Mountain building of theAndes is chiefly in theformof sharp anticlinal
structureswith north-southaxes which form the presentrangesof the altiNumbers in parentheses refer to the Bibliography at the endof the paper.

GEOLOGY OF THE AGUILAR LEAD-ZINC

MINE.

409

plano. Commonly the anticlines are flanked by normal block faultsof large
displacement.

In the Aguilar rangeand the immediate neighborhood of the mine, the lowest formation exposed is the Aguilar quartzite, believed' to be Cambrian. The formation outcrops throughout the Aguilar rangein the form of an anticline,or dome. Near the central part of the range, whichis about35 km in length, two exposures of granite outcrop, oneon each flankof themountains,

XPLANATIO
TERTIARY IGUILARGRAHITr (.ABRA LAITEGRANIT S[0114[NTAIIY RICKS TERTIARYIKO SANOSIIN[S LII(STONES. CONG[OHERATES

IGI[OUS Cl

LOWER ORIOVICIAN.CkJAS

LOWF. RORIOVICIAN OCll4lllR


AGUtLAR SHALE

- STKCTUSq[ SECTION ON A-I-C-O - /

FxG. 2. Geological mapandsection of theAguilar district (afterJ. S. Brown).

theAguilar ontheeast andtheAbraLaiteonthewest(Fig. 2). Theformer


gaveriseto the contact andpyrometasomatic alteration in calcareous bedsof thequartzite, withwhich the deposit is associated. The basal quartzite is overlain by theAguilarshale, a thickseries of shales with some interbedded quartzite andconglomerate. Abovethe shale is the

Cajas formation containing lowerOrdovician trilobites (9), overlying' which aretheMesozoic andTertiary beds. It appears thatall these formations, with the. exception of therecent unconsolidated deposits, arefolded moreor less in thesame degree andmanner, andthattheunconformity between the Paleo-

410
stratification.

FRANK N. SPENCER, JR.

zoic and Mesozoic formations must have been roughlyparallelto the


The eastern borderof the anticline is marked by a blockfault downthrown to the eastwhichbringsthe Aguilarquartzite in contact with the Tertiary. The thicknesses of the formations involved showthat the displacement is at

least 5,500 m (18,000 ft). It is known astheMainAguilar Fault (Fig. 2). A branch fromthisfault, called theWestBranch, forks offin thesouthern part
of the range, and cutsnorthward through its centerslightly westof the anticlinalaxisandtheAguilargranite. It is downthrown to the west,with a displacement calculated at 3,000m maximum (10,000ft).
$edinentaryRocks.

A#uilar Quartzite.--The lowest exposures of the Aguilarquartzite are the ore-bearing bedsof the mine,which are the only calcareous rocksknown in the section. Theseimpurelimestones, mineralized in part, are some400 m (1300ft) thickincluding interbedded shale whichcomprises about half the orebearingsection. The bedsare exposed in a narrowbandof the formation betweenthe Aguilar graniteon the east,and the West Branchof the Aguilar
Fault on the west.

The remainder of the formation above the ore zone takes the form of a

domeroughly surrounding the Aguilargranite. The formation consists of a


series of quartzitebedswith lesserinterbedded shales. The individualquartzite bands rangefromabout a meterto ten meters in thickness and are largely massive with little indication of the stratification.However,the bedding is asily apparentin the broaderpicture,because of differentialerosionof the
quartzite and the softer interbeddedshale.

The surfaceof the quartziterangesfrom dirty gray to brownishand reddishtones..The colormay extendalongnumerous fractureplanes belowthe
surface. In placesmanganese dendritesare found on the fractures,but it is obvious that the manganese and iron content, which doubtlessly produced the coloration,is minor. On freshly broken surfaces the quartzite is white. In-

dividualquartzgrainsare not normallyvisiblemegascopically, and are probably less than 0.5 ram. Under the microscope (13) calcareous cementis sometimes evident,as well as minor quantitiesof accessory zircon, rutile and
biotite.

The exposedsectionof the formationis estimated to be 2,000 m thick (6,500 ft). Its contact with Aguilar shale, which overlies it, is rather
gradational.

A#uilar $hale.--These shales outcrop over most ofthe range, west ofthe

West Branchfault, and form the hangingwall of the ore zone at the Aguilar mine. In the centralpart of the rangebetweenthe Abra Laite and Aguilar

granites, the shale hasbeenalteredto'a dense hornfels. As the distance from


the intrusives increases, the hornfels gradesinto slate,and finally at the northern and southern extremities of the range,into normalshale. The lowerpart of the formationcontains a few bandsof conglomerate, quartzite,and calcareous

rocks. Many of these bands are discontinuous, but two havesufficient continuity sothat the foldedand contorted structureof the formationcouldbe de-

GEOLOGY OF THE AGUILAR LEAD-ZINC

MINE.

411

terminedwith enough accuracy to estimate its thickness, and alsothe displacement of the West Branchfault. A total thickness of 4,000 m (13,000 ft) can
be measured.

The prevailingcolor of the formationis dark to black on both weathered and fresh surfaces. In the un-metamorphosed parts it is a normal, soft, fine grainedshaleweathering to platy fragments. The hornfels, on the other hand, is a hard, massive,siliceous rock with few signsof the original stratification. The formationcontains a numberof minor mineral showings, chiefly in

calcareous strata closeto the West Branch fault. The Esperanzadeposit, which showsgalena-sphalerite mineralization in a barite gangue,replaces a bandof calcareous quartzite about2.5 m thick (Fig. 2). It is the only deposit of any importance other than the Aguilar mine. The contactof the Aguilar shalewith the OverlyingCajas formationhas not beenfound,andthe latter hasbeenentirelyeroded off in the Aguilar range. Cajas Formation.--The Cajas formation is exposedin an anticlinal structure (Fig. 2) in the broad valley east of the Aguilar fault, and also in the mountainrange forming the easternflank of the valley 25 km east of Aguilar. Like the first two formationsdescribed, it containsa basal quartziteand overlyingshales. Although the quartzitesectionis somewhat similar to the Aguilar quartzite, the shalesare quite different from the Aguilar shale. In the transition zone betweenthe two parts of the formation, a number of thin strataof phosphatic limestone occurwhich containnumerous trilobites anda fewbrachiopods.Nine species of trilobites wereidentified by Kobayashi (9) who placesthem in the lower Ordovician. The complete section of the formationhas not beenstudied. Someshales interstratified with the lower quartziteare greencolored. Thinly laminated, blackcarbonaceous shales overlie the transitionlimestones and are cut by an unconformity severalhundredmetershigher. The total known thickness of the formation 'is2,000m (6,500 ft). The actualcontact of the Cajasunconformity with the overlyingrocksis not clearlyexposed, but field relationships leavelittle doubtof its approximate
location.

Mesozoicand Tertiary Formations.--The Mesozoicand Tertiary rocks, corresponding to the petroleum-bearing formations of the lowlandsof northwest Argentinaand easternBolivia, are widespread on the altiplano. Near

'the minetheyare well exposed in the broadvalleyjust eastof the Aguilar


range. Numerousunclassified Tertiary fossils havebeenfoundin limestones in the centralpart of the section. The lowestexposed member, a red sandstone with a basalconglomerate, is believed to be Cretaceous, but no clear unconformity with the Tertiary is exposed. Tertiary rocksconsistchieflyof red sandstones and conglomerates with
lesser thickness of limestones and shales, and overlie the basal formation..

The highest knownmember is a coarse conglomerate about1,000m (3,300 ft) thick. Most of the conglomerate is derivedfrom the lower parts of the Ter-

tiary,andfossiliferous limestone boulders fromthemiddle Tertiaryhavebeen

412

FRANK N. SPENCER,JR.

found. It alsocontains numerous graniteboulders, showing that some granite existedin the area prior to the mountainbuilding,but it is noteworthythat the bouldersshow no resemblance to either the Aguilar or the Abra Laite granites. The total thickness of all theserocksis estimated at about3,000 m (10,000 ft). The formations containno known mineraldeposits, but possibly contain petroleum, evidenced by a smalloil seep about20 km north of Aguilar. Alluvial Deposits.--Recent alluviumis extensive in the valleys,bothwater and glacier-laid. It ranges from finely laminated clays and gravel stream wash,to coarse glacialdetritusalongthe lower slopes of the mountains. Much of the glacialmaterialhasbeenre-washed by mountainstreams into large alluvial fans.

Igneous Rocks.

Aguilar Granite.--As already explained,this granite is located in the dome-shaped structure of the Aguilar quartzitein the form of an elongated stockalongthe eastflankof the range. Its outcrop is about9 km longand 2 or 3 in width. The Aguilar andWest Branchfaultscut the sediments bordering the granitea shortdistance from the contacts on the flanksof the dome. The granite varies from gray to reddishon its surfaceexposures. The fresh surfaceis grayi.sh. It is generallyof mediumgrain, containingabout 35 percentof quartz,and the remainder chieflyorthoclase with someoligoclase. A smallpercentage of biotiteanda little zirconare present asaccessory minerals. A minor amount of fluorite is present,particularlyin the dikes exposed in the mineworkings. The fluoritecontent of the maingranitemass
has not beeninvestigated thoroughly. Abra Laite Granite.--This stock.takesan analogous positionto that of

the Aguilar on the west flank of the range. The exposure is considerably largerandmoreirregularin shape. On the westit is covered by valleyalluvium andthereis no certainty that a regional blockfault existson the westof the range. Graniteoutcrops knownto occurin the mountains some20 km fartherwest,suggest the existence of an underlying batholith of considerable
extent with an east-west orientation.

The appearance andcharacter of the Abra Laite graniteare similarto the Aguilar,except that it contains lessplagioclase and no knownfluorite, and that thereis strongdevelopment of a porphyritic texturealongits contacts. A fewmineral deposits of a minor character appear to be associated with this
granite.
Faulting.

Thelarge block faults ontheflanks oftheregional folding aretheimportant ones in the general structure.In addition, a number of min6rnorth-south
faults associated with the movement of the West Branch have beenexposed

in themineworkings andcomplicate thelocalstructure of the orebodies. A


few later east-west faults have cut and displaced the othersin the mine area.

GEOLOGY OF THE .zlGUIL.zlR LEAD-ZINC MINE.

413

Main ztguilarFault.--The main Aguilar fault is well exposed in a number of localities just eastof the Aguilar range. Where it is not exposed, its effectscanbe tracedfor at least25 km alongthe mountain front, and it mayextend considerably farther. The actualexposures are severalmetersin width, consisting of crumpled shaleand gouge. Its eastwarddip, togetherwith the fact that it brings the Tertiary on the eastsideof the fault in contactwith the Aguilar quartziteand
shale on the west, demonstrate its normal action.

In the clearest exposures the upperhorizons of the Tertiary are in contact with the Aguilar shale,and thereforeits minimumdisplacement can be calculated as including the full thickness of the Tertiary, 3,000 m the Cajas, 1,500m, andabout1,000m of theAguilarshale, a totalof 5,500m (18,000ft). The existence of the Aguilar quartzitenear the fault at somepointsindicates thatthedisplacement maybeconsiderably more. In general the Paleozoics are highlycontorted near the fault, and the Tertiary in its hanging wall usuallyis standing almost parallelto its plane.
Abra Coraille Fault.--The Abra Coraille fault occurs on the Western

front of an anticlinalmountainrangebearingthe samenamesome25 km east of the mine. It is downthrown to the west,and in other respects is similar to the Aguilar fault in actionas well as displacement.It bringsthe upperTertiary in contact with the Cajas series.

West Branch of the.dguilar Fault.--As previously mentioned, theWest


Branch fault cuts off the westward dipping Aguilar quartzite with its orebearingzoneat the mineand bringsthe quartzitein contact with the overlying Aguilar shale. Detailedstudyof the shaleformationby Brown showed that the maximum displacement occurredin the neighborhood of the Aguilar deposit,where3,000 m (10,000 ft) couldbe accounted for, including the upper part of the quartzite and the lower part of the shale. It thereforefaults the ore-bearing bedsto depthsbeyondmining range. This important question hasbeenchecked in recentyearsby coredrilling west of the fault to a depthof

750 m (2,300ft). The holeshowed no signs of the Aguilarquartzite, tending to confirmthe original estimateon displacement. The character of the exposures underground are surprisingly ill-defined for a fault of suchlargedisplacement, and the fault went unrecognized in the early exploration period. Development 'later showed that the beddings were 'clearly cut off, and exposed the fault at sufficient points so that its character could be recognized. The strikeis generally north-south andthe dip from 50 to 60 west. Where there is no disturbance by later faulting, it consists of

a zoneof shearing from 5 to 10 m wide (16 to 33 ft) with minoramounts of gouge. On the surfacelittle can be seenof the fault itself, but its effects clearlybring the west-dipping quartzitein contact with the contorted hornfels in the hangingwall. The evidenceindicatesthat the rupture occurredafter the contactand pyrometasomatic alteration in the ore-bearingcalcareous rocks, but before the granitereached its finalposition, andis therefore pre-ore. In areaswhere both walls are shale,the degreeof alterationto hornfelsis muchthe sameon

4:14:

FRANK N. SPENCER, JR.

the two sides, whichis the mainreason for its obscure appearance.The fault itself doesnot seemto be affectedby the alteration. In its northward extensionthe displacement decreases rapidly, and the fault diesout within ten kilometersof the mine. To the southit swingsto
the southeast to join the main Aguilar fault. CanedoFault System.--The faults of the Canedosystelnare known only within the mine workings. They are of minor importancein the regional geology, but are highly importantin the localgeology of the ore bodies. All
are downthrown to the west, and are connected with the action of the West

Branchfault. They will be discussed more fully under "Mine Geology." LagunaFault.--The Lagunafault is oneof the few east-west faultsknown in the area,and is exposed a few hundredmetersnorth of the mine workings. The dip is north and its normalactionhasdisplaced the outcrops of the West Branch fault and the Aguilar quartzite about 200 m to the east. The fault doesnot extend into the granite on the east, and evidentlyoccurredbefore the granitehad solidified.

Fro. 3. Geologicalmap of Canedolevel, south, Aguilar mine.


MINE GEOLOGY.

The West Branch of the Aguilar fault is unquestionably the controlling structure of the deposit, as well as a numberof minor deposits, all of replace-

menttype,scattered alongthe eastern front of the range. The ore bodies at


the mine all occurin a block of Aguilar quartziteextendingsome 1,500 m

(4,900ft) along the footwall of the fault with a widthof from 200 to 300 m (650 to 1,000ft) between the fault on its westand the graniteon its east.

GEOLOGY OF THE AGUILAR LEAD-ZINC MINE.

415

The ore-bearing blockis limitedon the northby the Lagunafault, and a subsidiary planeknownas the Number 8 fault. On the southits surface exposure is cut off by a westward ,protuberance of the granite which almostreaches the
West Branch fault.

The rocks within the 'blockare a seriesof quartzites,arkoses,calcareous quartzites gradinginto purer limestones, and interbedded shales. All of these rocksshowthe effectsof contactmetamorphic alteration. In the mine area

the West Branchfault hasa strikeof north 12 eastand dipsfrom 50 to 60 west. The ore-bearingformationsare much contortedbut have a general

strikeof fromsouth!0 to south 30 east, anddip from40 to 45 west. They


are thereforecut off by the fault in depth as well as in their northward extensions, and their intersections with the fault rake south at'a low angle.

Fro. 4.

Geologicalmap of Canedo level, north, Aguilar mine.

Because of'thecomplicated folding thestratigraphic thickness cannot be


measured accurately, but is believed to be on the order of 400 m (1,300 ft).
The lower 200 m are known as the Footwall quartzite. Above this are six distinct strata of calcareous quartziteswith interbeddedhornfels members.

With theexception of thehornfels, all themembers areore-bearing in varying


degrees. The Footwall quartziteis alsoknown as Bed X, and -theother calcareous beds are numbered from 1 to 6, with Bed No. 1 in the immediate

hanging wall of Bed X. Of these, only BedsX throughNo. 4 containimportant quantitiesof ore. Alterationof the originalsandstones to quartzites is a regionaleffectand has no relationship to the granite. On the other hand, the alterationof the shaleto hornfels is clearlyrelatedto the granite,as it diesout into normalshale

416

FRANK N. SPENCER, JR.

within a few kilometersof the granite contact. The calcareous rocks in the mineworkingsall showstrongalterationto the silicateminerals,and little of the originallimestone can be seen. Two generaltypesof ore bodiesoccur: replacement alongthe calcareous stratigraphic horizons, and replacement alonga shearzonein the footwallof the West Branchfault. The formertype is foundin the southern part of the mine whereBedsNo. 1 through4 swingaway from the West Branchfault

towardthe south-east.The lattertypeis confined to the northernpart of the minealongthe truncation of the Footwallquartzite by the West Branch fault. The two typesare gradational, asthe shearing actionof the fault hasmuchto do with the localization of both (Figs. 3, 4 and 9). Although the geological pictureof the deposit as a wholeappears to be rathersimple, manyof the localdetails are quitecomplex, and the identificationof thevarious beddings hasbeen in doubt in a greatmanycases. Fault-

ing,sharp local folds, sudden thickening andthinning of thebeds, andthefact that thequartzites aswell asthe shale members are very similarin character,
all tend to obscure the local geology.
Ore-Bearing Horizons.

Bed X.--The strata of Bed X are the lowest known exposures of the

Aguilarquartzite formation.They are highlycompressed and somewhat


folded,and consist of a numberof bands of white to gray quartzite, strongly

silicated calcareous quartzite, andhornfels.Quartzite predominates, with the tactite ofsecondary importance. In most areas theshales have been eliminated by squeezing. Many partsof the'strata showsedimentary banding.The
individualbandsare from one to four centimeters thick and vary from white

andgray to yellowand brown. Someof these are calcareous and commonly contain galena andsphalerite. In the limeyrocks irregular banding andbunching of thesilicate minerals is common, butthebands normally bear
little relationship to the rock strata.

BedNo./.---Bed No. 1 constitutes thehanging wall zoneof BedX, andis from2 to 10m thick(7 to 33 ft). The original bedwasdistinctly calcareous with some almost purelimestone which waslateraltered to coarse calcite in

grains from0.2to 0.3mmin diameter. Thecalcareous rock normally forms thecentral part.ofthehorizon andis bordered bymore siliceous rocks carrying quartz grains in a calcareous cement. These latterpartsare mostly

strongly altered to the silicate minerals, chiefly diopside, wollastonite and


rhodonite with minoramounts of garnet. Galena and sphalerite occurirregularly, andnumerous almost barren areas exist in thehorizon.
This bed is one of the few distinct marker horizonsin the mine, but in

localities where it is pressed against BedNo. 2, its position maybein doubt. Bed No. 2.--Beds 1 and2 are normally separated by a hornfels horizon
whichvaries in thickness from zeroto 50 m. Bed2 is from 20 to 40 m thick. In some areas theformation consists of threebands of quartzite andcalcareous

quartzite withintervening hornfels, butmuch of it is compressed and shows


no hornfels whatsoever. The siliceous parts,whichagainpredominate towardthetwowalls, are similar to those of BedNo. 1 andcontained a cal-

GEOLOGY OF THE AGUILAR LEAD-ZINC MINE.

417

careouscementwhich gave rise to the silication. The ore mineralizationis strong,but irregular. In somesections ore extendsover the full width of the
horizon and in others the bed is almost barren.

Bed No. 3.mHornfels of uncertain thickness,and also a strike fault known

as the Canedo, separate Beds2 and 3 (Figs. 5 and 6). In the developed part of the minethereare no exposures of Bed 2 westof the fault, and noneof Bed 3 to the east. Thereforethe displacement of the fault and the thickness of the intervening hornfelshave not been detrmined. The thickness of Bed 3 is from 45 to 65 meters. Sharplocalfoldsexist,but in generalit is rather regu..

EXPLA ATION
NUMBERSREFER TO OR[ BEllS WEST BRANCH FAULT WB INCLINAOA I CANEDO .. C EMBUOO B-3 B-3

4600

i
,,.'r,'/'.'...::.:'."-.'_.':::i;A: '" /'" ) ./E-'. \ .N

/;//:i:;'::.";'..'...' ', .../t ....

v' ' '

vo o

,,.,

Fro. 5. Cross section at coordinate 2,855north,looking north,Aguilarmine.

lar. The lithology, however, is very irregular. The bed contains about30 percent or 40 percentof shaleinterstratified with 5 or 6 bandsof quartzite andcalcareous quartzite similarto those of Bed 2. Many of these bands are broken into lenses of various sizes, the smallest of whichmay be measured in a few tensof meters in their longest dimension.Again the purer quartzites
are near the walb, and the more calcareous rocks toward the center of the

bed. Silicationappearsto be slightly weaker, and ore mineralization more irregularboth in respect. to the lenticularnature of the favorable rocks,and
distribution of ore within the lenses.

Bed No.4.--This bed isseparated from Bed 3 by20to40mo[hornfels.


Thickness is from 6 to 12 meters. The bed has a more calcareousnature than

any of theothers, with thepossible exception of Bed 1. It parallels the West

418

FR.4NK N. SPENCER,JR.

Branchfault for about150 m andis cut off by the fault at its north end,as are the otherbeddings. Ore is continuous in the 150-metersection, but fadesto the southwhere the bed swingsaway from the fault toward the south-east. Bandedstructureof a shalynature is common,and silicatealterationis less
noticeable.

OtherBeddin#s.--Bed 5 lies10 or 15 m in the hanging wall of Bed4. It is a few meters thick,consisting of calcareous quartzite and contains ore only
near its intersection with the West Branch fault. In the southern extension

of the bed, the mineralization is very weak in brokenfragments of the horizon.

FIG. 6. Crosssection at coordinate 3,025north, lookingnorth,Aguilar mine.

Bed6 is a similarquartzitic horizon carryingtraces of galena and sphalerite exposed on the surface. Its correlation with the otherore-bearing horizons is
not certain.

Interbedded HornfelsMembers.--All of the shales, or hornfels, including the Aguilar shaleof the hangingwall, are similar in character. They are black, fine-grained rocks, considerably foliated from thepressure whichthinned

andthickened themat many points. Occasi)nally banding is noticeable, in


placesdue to schistosity.

The hornfels alteration ischaracterized megascopical13 bythe hard, silici-

fled appearance of the rock, and alsotypicalspottingof feldsparknots 1 to 2 mm in diameter. The microscope shows that the knotsare frequentlyaltered to sericite. Many sectionsshow biotite and pyrrhotite. The local limey

GEOLOGY OF THE AGUILAR

LEAD-ZINC

MINE.

4-19

character is indicated by the presence of garnet,calciteand actinolite. The microscope doesnot show any appreciable differencebetweenthe various
beds.

The Aguilar shalewestof the West Branchfault shows some slightdifferences from the interbedded members, but theseare by no meanssufficient to permitpositive identification in the greatmajorityof cases. It is usually fracturedinto blocks of 4 or 5 cm,andthe jointsshowa greenish chlorite coloration. This is sometimes apparent in the otherhornfels, but the development is not sopronounced. Bandsof densequartzitefrom 0.5 to 2 m thick are also foundlocally. Althoughsuchbands exist in the othermembers, they usually showa slightdevelopment of the silicateminerals. No silicates are found in the purer quartzitesof the Aguilar shale.
Faulting and Folding.

So far asis known,all the important north-south strikingfaultsin the mine


are downthrown on their west walls.

The rockshave beencontorted and shattered to sucha degreethat only two systems of jointinghavesufficient regularityto be mapped. One of these systems is parallelto the West Branchfault, and the otherdipseastat 45 degreeswith a north-south strike. The Canedo system of north-south faultingwas the earliestmovement followingthe folding,and wasprior to the West Branchfault, the silicate alteration, and the ore mineralization. The earliest of these faults, the Embudo

(Figs.3, 5) shows definite movement priorto thegranitedikestage. The inferenceis that the Canedo faultsrepresent the bordersof blocksdraggedupward on the eastby the intrudinggranite. The West Branchfault was the second importantmovement in the mine area, and occurred after the silicatealteration,but prior to the ore. Briefly, thereis evidence that the fault shattered the silicates, producing favorable localitiesfor ore deposition. These featureswill be discussed under the section dealingwith ore localization. The relationship of the fault with the ore
bodies,and the fact that traces of similar mineralization exist west of the fault,

give rather positive evidence that it is pre-mineral. Followingthe West Branch,a numberof movements of reversefaulting took place. These are the east-dippin. g B-3 fault which displaces the West Branch,anda vagueshearing, parallelto the B-3, whichwasmentioned above. The shearing is post-silicate, and pre-ore. The two were probablycontemporaneous and are downthrown to the west. The Lagunaand No. 8 faultsoccurredat aboutthe sametime. The final movements, of post-ore age,were a reopening of the faultsof the Canedosystem. The age is shownby crushed ore alongthem as well as the fact that the ore beddings were displaced considerably more than the West Branchfault where it is cut by the Inclinada,a fault of the Canedo system(Fig. 5). The sizeandappearance of all the faults seemto bearlittle relationship to their displacements. The Canedo fault with

a Probable displacement of lessthan 100 m commonly has the aspect of a

stronger movement thantheWestBranch whose displacement is measured

420

FRANK N. SPENCER,JR.

in thousands of meters. The factthat the faultsof the Canedo system werereopened after ore depositioh suggests that theselater movements took place afterconsiderable erosion hadoccurred, andtherefore undermuchlighterload thanthe pre-oremovements, resulting in a looserbrecciation as compared to the tight shearingof the deeperseatedfaults.

Fro. 7. Crosssection at coordinate 3,400north,lookingnorth,Aguilar mine.

EmbudoFault.--The Embudois the earliestfault of the Canedo system, and occurred prior to the granite dike stageas shownin Figure 5. Weak shearing within the graniteon the line of the fault shows that there was slight post-granite movement, but no displacement canbe measured. The fault is cut off by the Canedo. As the displacements of boththe Embudoand Canedo are not known,the downfaulted positionshownfor Bed 2 in Figure 5 is hypothetical, as it has not yet been found in actual development. Considerable

horizontal component in its displacement is indicated by a gap in the faulted position of Bed 2, and alsoby strongmullionmarksraking down the dip at a low angle. The fault is generally from 20 to 40 cm wide with a gougefilling. Canedo Fault.--The displacement of the Canedo fault is knownonly as a minimumof about75 m (250 ft) vertically. It variesfrom 50 cm to 2 m in width with a filling of gougeand brecciated material. It dips steeply to the westasshown in Figures5 and6, andjoinsthe Inclinada fault in depth. The Canedocontrols the movement, and the combination dips westwardbelowthe
juncture.

GEOLOGY OF THE AGUILAR

LEAD-ZINC

MINE.

421

InclinadaFault.raThemeasured displacement of Bed 3 by the Inclinada fault is 60 to 90 m (200 to 300 ft) vertically, with the lesser movement toward the southend of the mine. The post-mineral movement is alsoaccurately measurable as about25 m (80 ft), its displacement of the West Branchfault

(Fig. 6). Thedirection ofmovement isbelieved to bevertical, although thisis


not certain. Its appearance is muchthe sameas the Canedo fault. B-3 Fault.--Althoughthe West Branchhasnot beenfoundin the footwall

of the B-3 fault, the rocksencountered on the footwallsideare unquestion-

Fro.8. Cross section atcoordinate 3,550 north, looking north, Aguiiar mine.
ably Aguilar shale(Fig. 7), showing the fault is reverse action. Thus the WestBranch andtheorezone have been faulted to a position below thelowest workings of themine. As no'exploration hasbeen done, its displacement and
the continuation of the ore are not known. Extension of the B-3 into the

southern partof themineis uncertain andit hasbeen shown onlyin the sectionscovering the northend. The exposures are somewhat weakerthan the
Canedo and Inclinada faults.

Number 8 Fault.--TheNumber 8 faultis a subsidiary plane of theLaguna andcuts off theorebodies at thenorthendof themine(Fig. 10), andis similar in sizeand appearance to the B-3. Its normalactionhasfaultedthe West
Branch and the ore zone downward and to the east on its north side. Shear-

ing believed to be the post-mineral actionof the Canedo continues across the fault on the north projectionof the West Branch.

422

FR.4NK N. SPENCER, JR.

Folding.--Folding of thestrata does'not seem to beconnected in anyway


with the faulting,and probably occurred previous to all otherstructural features. A few minor examples of drag folds have been observed alongthe wallsof some faults,indicating the directions of their movements.Theseare all superimposed on the earlierfoldsof larger dimensions.
CONTACT METAMORPHIC AND PYR03ETASOMATIC ALTERATION.

The development of the silicate minerals in the calcareous quartzites and arkoses is theonlyimportant formof alteration sofar recognized. Because of therecent glacial erosion, littleor nosurface oxidation is present in themineralized outcrops.Some forms of hydrothermal alteration areapparent, chiefly

:___ :..'.'"'"..//4
................. ;.::: **-: .'.:.' 15o ,
..................... ...''
......

EXPLANATION
HORNFLS ORE

--...

3100
0
.,: ,

10 20 30 z

',''t ...... ..

'
..

..

---.

.......

..

...

.-

-"'""

Fit. 9. Detail of portionof Bed X shearzone. North end of X level,


Aguilar mine.

that of the silicates to chlorite and sericite. This alteration has not been stud-

ied in detail,and its importance to the economic geology of the deposit is


obscure.

The hornfelsalteration, which includes a large area of the Aguilar shale

between thetwogranites, takes theformof sintering andrecrystallization of thesilica, andtheformation of feldspars.Thereis no evidence that silica has
beenintroduced. Other minerals suchasgarnet,amphibole andpyroxene are

found occasionally in thinsections, andwerealso probably developed fromthe original constituents of the shale by contact metamorphism ratherthanby
pyrometasomatism.

The development of tactitein the calcareous quartzites and arkoses is probably dueto both pyrometasomatism andcontact metamorphism, assome
of the minor constituents of the silicatemineralshave doubtlessly beenintro-

duced. The tactitealteration is generally irregular. Contortion of the strata,

andvariations in theoriginal character of therocks have influenced continuity


of the alteration. There is alsoevidence that the silicate minerals have mi-

GEOLOGY OF THE AGUILAR LEAD-ZINC

MINE.

423

grated in many cases. Occasional pure silicatebandsa few centimeters in width occurlocallyparallelto the stratification, evidentlythe alterationof calcareous bandsin the original sediment. The age of the tactite has been shownby Brown's microscopic work to pre-datethe ore mineralization. Replacement of the silicates by galenaand sphalerite is common, but the reversesituationhas never beennoted.

Fro. 10. Longitudinal sectionof Bed No. 1 (from coordinates 2,900 to 3,400 north) and Bed X shear zone (coordinates 3,400 to 4,000 north), looking west, Aguilar mine.
Silicate Mineralization.

Four gradational types of rock are believedto have beenpresentbefore the alteration;theseare limestone with minor originalsilica,calcareous quartzite with from 25 to 50 percentsilica,a similar calcareous arkosecontaining feldspar, and the purer quartzite. Althoughsuchtypesmay be foundin any of the ore beddings, their stratigraphy is obscure because of contortion and alteration. Occasionaldefinite contactsbetween the types are seen in thin sections. All of the types show differencesin the silicate alteration both quantitativelyand qualitatively. What is believed to have beenlimestone generallycontains about35 percent calcite,20 percentdiopside,12 percentwollastonite, 6 percentrhodonite and 3 percentgarnet. The remaining24 percentis composed of minor accessories, somealterationproducts, and the sulphides. Quartz is not present except in an introduced form. This givesa calculated analysisof the rock as
follows:

CaO
SiO CO MgO
MnO

33.0%
22.1 15.2 3.5
1.4

AlOa
FeO Other
Total

0.7
0.02 24.08
100.00

424

FRANK N. SPENCER,JR.

With the assumption that somepart of the remaining24 percentwas calcitewhichhasbeenreplaced by the sulphides, the onlyconstituent whichmust have beenintroducedwas manganese. The magnesia could have originated from previous dolomitization, and the iron and aluminacouldwell have been originalimpuritiesin the rock. Thus, the analysis shows a composition of an impure limestone. The more siliceous limestones and limey quartzitescontain sedimentary quartz,in places a little calcite,and more diopside than the purer limestone. Roughlythe percentages are diopside 30, quartz 15, rhodonite10, garnet 8, calcite 5, amphibole 3, andno wollastonite, with the balance of the constituents
similar to that of limestone. Calculatedanalysisis as follows:
SiO
CaO

41.5%
16.0

MgO
MnO

6.5
2.6

C02 A12Oa
FeO Other
Total

2.2 1.8
0.4 29.0
100.0

Againit appears thatall of the silicaandlimewereavailable in the original rock for the formationof the silicates. The only possible exception is the
manganese.

In the calcareous arkoses the quartzcontent is about50 percentand the original feldspars 15 percent. Smallamounts of calcite maybe present, and lesser percentages of thesilicates in about thesame proportions asin the siliceouslimestones. The purerquartzites contain about65 percent quartzand
up to 20 percentfeldspars. The accessories include minorquantifies of augite, titanite,epidote, apatite

andzoisite, all probably pyrometasomatic with the exception of augite. The


titaniumcouldhavebeena minor sedimentary constituent, but fluorinefor the

apatite doubtlessly originated fromthe fluorite content of the granite. Small


amounts of fluoritearefoundin the sediments bordering thegranitedikes. An

uncertain finegrained mineral believed to betopaz hasbeen noted in thin sections,as well as tourmaline. A minor occurrence of molybdenite has been uncovered in thewallof oneorebody. Its localnature andnormal association withthesilicates suggest thatit wasintroduced during thealteration period. The scarcity of theiron-bearing silicates is notable at Aguilar. 'In general, thegrainsizeof thesilicate minerals ranges from0.01to 0.2 mm,although in some areas individual crystals up to several centimeters in
diametercan be seenmegascopically.

In making theabove analyses of thelimestone andsiliceous limestone, two difficulties exist which may have considerable influence on their accuracy. Oneis thefactthatsolittlecompletely unaltered rockexists in theminework-

ings, therealcomposition of theoriginal sediments cannot bedetermined accurately.Thesecond is thatthenumber of thinsections used in thecompilation, fifty-three, isnotsufficient tobetrulyrepresentative ofthedeposit. A1-

GEOLOGY

OF THE

AGUILAR

LEAD-ZINC

MINE.

425

though the proportions between the quantities of the various silicate minerals in a givenrocktype may be moreor lesscorrect, the error in the total percentage of silicates maybe considerably greater. Thus,the totalsof 41 percentsilicates in the limestone, and 56 percent in the siliceous limestone probably cannotbe compared on a quantitative basis. What is calledrhodonite at Aguilar is believed by Brown to be an isomor-

phous recrystallization of rhodonite andwollastonite with a composition, $iO: 46.76%,MnO 25.65%,CaO20.67%,FeO 4.5355, ZnS 2.40. The sphalerite is an impurityvisiblein the sample. Although this substance or mineralis
similarto pure rhodonite, its opticalproperties are quitedifferent.

Origin of the Tactire.

From the aboveit followsthat the tactiteat Aguilar has beenformedby heatandpressure effects from the graniteto a muchgreaterextentthan by
additions of mineralconstituents, and consequently can be classed as contact metamorphic ratherthanpyrometasomatic, although a minoramountof pyro

metasomatism is probable.The presence of fluorine, andpossibly oihervolao tiles,whichemanated from the granite,hasprobably aidedthe alteration and
helpedthe silicatesto crystallize. The irregularnatureof the silicate occurrences, whichin manycases appear

to be intrudedinto the rocks,is strongevidence for an interstitialfluidityin whichtherewasat least slightmigration of theminerals. A second indication of migration is occasional examples of silicate knotsin quartzite relatively free of lime. Theseknotsvary from 10 to 30 cm in diameterand havean inner
coreof coarse calcite sometimes replaced by a few spots of galena, and an outer

shell of tactite generally containing diopside, andlesser quantities of garnet and


wollastonite. Althoughtheir originhasnot beenproved,the explanation may be that a calcareous cement in the quartzite migrated undera fluid condition due to pressure, coalesced into knots,and formedsilicates alongthe quartzcalcite contact.

Thereappears to be little information in the literature regarding the temperature of formation of contact alteration. Brown(5, p. 104) gives themeltingpoints for some of thetactite minerals asbetween 1,185 C for molybdenite
and 1,825 C for rutile. Obviously,in a combined melt and in the presence of a fluorinefluxingagent,the meltingpointswouldbe loweredto someun-

known degree. In factthetemperature mustnecessarily havebeen lowerthan that of the granite intrusive, which.may havea melting pointat atmospheric pressure of 1,250 C (3, p. 83) andpossibly lowerin the easeof Aguilar, againbecause of thepresence of fluorine. This indicates that the temperature of silicate formation may havebeenin the neighborhood of 1,000 C, and in anycase higher thanthe temperature of hypothermal ore deposition. Lind

gren (11) gives the range for pyrometasomatic replacement at between 400 and600 C. Brown(5, p. 86) states that pyrrhotite, andperhaps chaldopyrite,mayhave a range upto 800 C. The state of fluidity which is believed
to have' existed in the Aguilar rocks at the time of alteration leadsto the supposition thattherocktemperature wasonlyslightly below that of thegranite,
which must have been in a similar fluid state. No evidence has been found

426

FRANK N. SPENCER,JR.

to show whether thefluiditywasoneof solution or of fusion, but the hightemperature suggests fusion. Although thealteration is considered to belargelycontact metamorphic requiringonlyheatandpressure from thegranite,the existence of some channelways were necessary for the movement of the small quantities of the pyrometasomatic substances.As the West Branchfault wasnot yet in existence, a deepseated source is improbable.The substances couldhavefounda pathway from the adjacent granite alongfaults of the Canedosystem, or through
brecciated parts of the sediments, now unrecognizable because of obliteration

by the silicates or othercontact effects. According to Schmitt (12, p. 136) such obliterationis a commonphenomenon in contact pyrometasomatic
deposits. Relationship oI the Tactite to the Granite.

Within the area a few hundredmetersfrom the granite contact,some diminutionin the strengthof the silication is notedas the distance from the contact increases. The strongest alterationappears to be in the hanging wall
of Bed X, Bed 1, and Bed 2, where these bedsare within 100 or 150 m from the

granite. Where Beds3 and4 are at greaterdistances, the alteration is weaker, eventhoughBed 4 is morecalcareous than any of the others.
ORE DEPOSITS.

The Orebodies are all of'tabularform eithercontrolled by stratigraphic


horizons,or shear zones,or both. As previouslyexplained,the beddedde-

posits occur chietty in'the south endofthemine. To thenorth theore-bearing


horizonsare successively truncatedby the West Branch fault, and north of coordinate 3,400 north (Fig. 4) replacement occurs alongthe footwallof the fault, in the Footwail quartzite. Actually, favorablecalcareous strata in the truncatedquartzite containmost of the ore, and areas along the shear zone
exist where sheared siliceous rocks contain little or no mineralization. Mineralixation.

In the order of their abundance, the ore mineralsincludereddishand yellow sphalerite,marmatite, galena, pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite,pyrite, arsenopyrite, and an unidentified silvermineralwhich may be either silver-bearing tetrahedriteor ruby silver. Pyrrhotite and chalcopyrite are apparentmegascopically, but they and the remaining iron mineralsoccurin minor amounts.

The gangue is composed of quartz,silicate minerals, and calcite. Both sedimentaryand introduced quartz are present, the latter in places is sometimes in the form of large masses of vein quartz in the shearzone. The marmatite at Aguilar generally contains inclusions of pyrrhotiteand chalcopyrite from 0.01 to 0.02 mm in diameter. Theseare believed by Brown to bedueto "ex-solution" (5, p. 47) fromthe marmatite asthe mineral cooled after deposition.Such inclusions are never found in the lighter colored sphalerite.

GEOLOGY OF THE AGUILAR LEAD-ZINC MINE.

427

In detail,the ore mineralization is deposited chieflyin the form of stringers


and veinlets from a centimeter to a meter in width. In the more favorable

areas the mineralizationspreadsout and replacesthe beddingsin masses of stringersand disseminated ore many meters in width, and tens of meters in longitudinal and vertical extent. The larger bodiesare generallyin the bedded deposits of Beds2, 3 and 4, but one suchmassoccurs in the Footwall quartziteat coordinate 3,400 north just belowthe mine level shownin Figures 3 and 4. This ore bodyhas a maximumthickness of 25 m and a lengthof

150 m. It is contiguotis with the shearzoneore, but is actuallyformedin a


favorable horizon which extends into the footwall.

Paragenesis.

The paragenesis of thedeposit hasbeen covered by Brown(4, 5) whofound that the first depositions were clearlypyrite, pyrrhotiteand chalcopyrite, followed closelyby marmatite. As the depositionof the zinc sulphides progressed, their character changed from the iron-richmarmatite to red sphalerite, and finally to the clear yellow variety of sphalerite. About midwayduring the zincdeposition the galenabegan to comein. The sphalerite deposition is believedto have continued slightly longer than the galena,as small amounts of yellow sphaleriteare found in polishedsections to be later. The silver mineralis later than all others,with the possible exception of arsenopyrite, which was seenonly in a few sections, where there were indications that it wasearly. Recently, it hasbeenuncovered in smallmasses 50 cm or soin extent in the shearzoneof the north end of the mine. Its relationship to the paragenesis is uncertain, but the masses showno galenacontent, indicating that
it was later than the ore minerals.

Ore Types.
In both the bedded and the shear zone ore bodies most of the mineralization

can be classed as replacement. A less important type of mineralizationappearsto have filled breccia cracksand other openings in the more siliceous

rocks. The stringers are normally lessthan a meterin extentwith no regular orientation. Substantial areasof the Footwall quartzite in the southend of the mine are mineralized in this manner,but rarely is the grade sufficient to provideminableore. FactorsInfluencingLocalixation of Ore.

Calcareous and SilicatedRocks.--The calcareous quartziteand silicated rocksare the fundamental cause of localization, but somepreparation by shearing or brecciation was necessary for deposition, which was providedchiefly by the West Branchfault movement. The ore mineralshave replaced both limestone and the silicates, but there is goodevidence from thin and polished sections and megascopically, that replacement favors the calciterather than the silicates. This is particularlyevidentfrom the fact that little limestone as

such canbefoundin thedeposit, although thereare manyareas of strongly sill-

428

FRANK N. SPENCER, JR.

cated rock which have receivedlittle or no brecciation, and containno ore. It alsoseems probable that the marmatized limestones would needa lesserde-

gree of brecciation than thetougher silicate minerals in order to provide


favorableground for deposition.

In replacing thesilicates, theoreminerals show some preferences. Diopsideand rhodonite are morecommonly replaced than any of the others, although in thecase of diopside thismaybepartlybecause of thegreater relative abundance of thatmineral. Wollastonite is replaced in places generally along cleavage cracksbetweenthe blades. A few specimens have been found in whichthe wollastonite has beenreplaced almostcompletely by galenain a form resembling pseudomorphs after the original. Garnetis rarely replaced. Thesepreferences probably depend on the physical properties of the various minerals, andthat the tougher minerals fractured in a favorable manner, while
the more flexible wollastonite did not. West Branch Fault.--The West Branch fault in its intersection with the

calcareous beds, gaverise to the mostfavorable localities for the deposition of the orebodies, as well as the channel by whichthe mineralizers entered. The shear zonein thenorthendof the mineshows its effectclearly. Although the zoneis in many cases10 to 20 m in the footwall of the actualfault, ihe trend of mostof the ore deposition is parallel to the fault,and in manycases the ore
crossesthe stratification .of the rock. As mentioned, rock character exerts

muchinfluence, as shownby bulges of ore into favorablestratain the footwall. However,these bulges rarelyextendmorethana few meters from the mainore zone,showing rather definitelythat replacement doesnot occurbeyondthe
effects of the fault.

In the southend of the mine, where the favorablerocksare more extensive,

replacement proceeded muchfartherfrom the fault. The ore bedslay between members of lesscompetent hornfels, whichprobably allowedthemto moveand brecciate understress to a greaterdegree than the footwallquartzite, Even so, the strongest mineralization in thesebedsis normallycloseto their planesof truncationby the West Branch fault. This is particularlynoticeable in Bed 4, where this horizonis parallelto the fault for about 150 m, and at about 15

to25m distant from it. Here, a large body ofgood grade orehas been mined.
In thesouthern extension of thebedwhereit swings towardthe southeast away from thefault, the mineralization becomes low grade,andmuchof it is too poor
to be classed as ore.

Canedo Fault System.--There isreason tobelieve that he Canedo faulting


had someeffect on the generalbrecciation of the rock and influenceon ore deposition. However, there are no signsof shear zone ore along their immediate walls. The ore of Bed 3 in the south end of the mine seemsto weaken

and become more sporadic, progressing up the dip of the formationfrom its
intersection with the Inclinada fault. As mentioned, the evidence shows that

the movements on the faults beganbefore the formation of the silicates,and

that whatever shearing wasproduced 'wasfilledand obliterated.


East Dippin# Shear.--With the exceptionof the shearingparallel to the West Branch fault, the east dipping shear is the only joint systemthat has

any regularity. It strikesaboutnorth-south and dips45 E into the granite.

GEOLOGY OF THE AGUILAR LEAD-ZINC MINE.

429

It is post-silicate and pre-ore,sincefine cracks in the silicates followingthe trend are sometimes seenwith ore mineralization replacingalong them. A

puzzling fact is that the granitedikesalmostalwaysfollowthe sametrend. It seems unlikelythat thesedikeswere intrudedafter the silication, but probable that the shearing startedearly and continued into a post-silicate age. The latest phase of the shearing is believed to be connected with the B-3 fault movement. The largeore bodyat coordinate 3,400 north,mentioned under "Mineralization," overlies the B:3 fault, andthereare signs that the favorable bedding wasaffected by the eastdipping shear, particularly as the bestore is
close to the fault.

Folds.--Folded structures are mentioned as a negativefactor rather than a favorableone in ore localization. Obviously,all folds were formed very early andat greatdepth. Brecciation probably occurred, but it was later obliteratedby the contactmetamorphic effects. In some casesthe folding pressed outthe less competent limeyrocks, whichhadnot yet beensilicated, as exemplified in Bed 1 on the anticline at 3,050north (Fig. 3). Foldsare importantlocalizers only wherethey are truncated by post-silicate faulting. DistributionoI Metal Valuesand Zoning.

The ratio ofthe zinc assay tothe lead israther errati throughout the deposit,with the importantexception that the shearzone ore carriesa higher proportion of lead than the bedded deposits of the southend. The average ratio for the shearzone (Zn dividedby % Pb) is about0.9, whereasthat for
the south end is 1.7. The extremes for all ore bodies are from 0.21 to 2.66.

The higherzinczonein the southendappears to be moreor lessvertical,suggestingthe possibility that the initial channelway for the ore was in that area, and that the mineralization later spread to the north, depositing a higherproportionof lead values.. Zoningis further suggested from the fact that relatively more arsenopyrite, which may indicatelower temperature deposition,
occurs in the north end.

A regularverticalchange in the ratio showing an increase in the zinc content in depth,hasnot beendetected. In fact,the lowestknownore,whichwas cut in a drill hole,hasa zinc-lead ratio muchlower than average.

If the horizontal variations reflect zonihg conditions, theybearno discernable relationship to the granite,but rather to an ore channel-on the plane
of the West Branch fault.

The quantitative relationship between the marmatiteand the light colored

sphalerite invarious par. tsofthedeposit, has notbeen studied in detail. However,the lowergradeof zincconcentrates madeduringperiods whenthe shear zonehassupplied a part of the mill heads,shows that this zonecarriesconsiderable marmatite. Thus,it maybethat the highzincratio in the southend is partially theresultof lateyellowsphalerite. Thismayindicate an orechannel, but doesnot fit in very well with the accepted theoryof zoning.

430
GENESIS OF

FRANK N. SPENCER, JR.


THE DEPOSIT AND ITS AGE RELATIONSHIPS.

The regionalgeological structure,as well as that of the mine,providesome evidence for datingthe Andeanmountainbuildingperiod,the intrusives, and
the ore mineralization.

Age of Mountain Building.

In theneighborhood of Aguilar,the Paleoz9ic, Mesozoic andTertiary rocks are all roughlyconcordant, pointingto only one generalperiod of mountain building in the late Tertiary. The youngestrocks exposedbelow the postPaleozoic erosionsurfacenear Aguilar are the lower OrdovicianCajas rocks. Some100 km to the southeast 0f Aguilar, at an elevation of about1,500 m (4,900 ft), Angelelli (2) reportsfossils of upper Silurian age in formations overlainby what are believed to be Devonianrocks. Devonianfossils are reportedby Lindgren(10) at Viacha,Bolivia,700 km northof Aguilar. Chace

(6) statesthat similarrocks,probably Devonian,outcropat Oruro and


Llalagua,Bolivia,about500 km north of Aguilar. So far as is knownto the author,no rocksyounger than Ordovician havebeenfoundon the altiplanoof northwest Argentina. Thus, there is goodreasonto believethat an uplift occurred in the latter area either in early Silurian, or betweenthe Paleozoic andthe Mesozoic. It seems morelikelythat the latter is the case, andthat the
late Paleozoic sediments were eroded.

Because of the scarcity of fossils in the Tertiary near Aguilar, the dating of the Andeanmountain buildingperiodcannot be established with certainty closer thanlate Tertiary. However,the presence of boulders containing fossils of middle Tertiary in the folded conglomerates of the higher horizons shows that the mountain buildingprobably beganearlier than late Tertiary,

andcontinued oversome appreciable length of geological time. Although


precise evidence is notavailable, thisdating corresponds in general to the conclusions of Ahlfeld(1), andsome otherrecent students ofAndean geology, who believethat the foldingbegansometime prior to the Pliocene. This conclusion is at variance with Berry (3), whoestimated that the folding began in
the Pliocene and continued into the Pleistocene on the basis of intrusions into

horizons bearing fossils whichwerereported by himto be of Pliocene age. The above factsandinferences, together with evidence in the relationskips of the faulting,contact metamorphism, and mineralization of the Aguilar

mine, givea sequence of geological events since the Precambrian asfollows:


1. Sedimentation of the Paleozoic rocks.

2. Uplift and erosionin the north-west Argentinearea. 3. Sedimentation of Mesozoicand early Tertiary rockswith little or no folding. 4. Beginningof the Andean mountainbuilding in middle Tertiary, mostly folding,including the formationof the Aguilar anticline.
5. Intrusion of the Abra Laite granite.

6. Intrusion of theAguilargranite intotheAguilaranticline, probably continuing


through the following events: a. Further contortion of the sedimentssurroundingthe granite.

b. Beginning of the Canedo fault system dueto the upwardpressure from c. Formation of the contact andpyrometasomatic alteration nearthe granite.
the granite.

GEOLOGY OF THE AGUILAR LEAD-ZINC MINE.

431

d. Formationof the Aguilar, West Branch,and other regionalblockfaults, probably dueto regionaladjustments towardthe close of the mountain
building period.

e. Formation of the east-westLaguna faults before the granite had completely solidified. 7. Introductionof the ore mineralization, which rose along the West Branch
fault and becamedepositedin the favorable areas. 8. Some continuationof the fault movementsof the Canedo system.

The dating of theAbraLaitegranite aspriorto theAguilaris based onthe factthattheformerintrusive shows strong porphyritic texturenearits borders, whereasthe latter doesnot, except slight development on its easterncontact. This'indicates that the Abra Laite granitewas intrudedinto relatively coldrocks,and that the Aguilar cameinto rocksalreadywarmedby the precedingintrusive.

The fact that the Tertiary rockseastof the Aguilar fault, and close to the granitecontact, showno signsof contact alterationindicates that this fault and the associated West Branchoccurred after the metamorphism had taken
place.

Sourceof Ore Mineralization.

The available evidence pointsto the West Branchfault as the mostlikely channelway followedby the ore fluids,and that the sourcewas a deepseated one. It is notable thatthe Aguilardeposit is located on the strikeof thisfault at a pointwhereits displacement is believed to be a maximum. The theory that the ore camedirectlyfrom the granite, or throughthe Canedosystemwhich probablycuts the granite at comparatively shallow depths,has beenconsidered.It has beenpointedout before,however,that anybrecciated zone connected with thegranite, andalsothepre-silicate Canedo faults,probably losttheir efficiency as ore channelways by silicate filling and
contactmetamorphism.

The relationship of the Canedo, West Branch, and the later Lagunafaulting,shows that the movement on all of these faults,with the possible exception of the B-3, was completed beforethe granite becamecompletely solidified. Therefore, unless therewerelater pre-orereopenings of the faultsthat are not discernible at present, all faultingmusthavebeenobliterated by the still fluid granite,in the samemanneras the extension of the Lagunainto the granite. The only one which couldhave escaped encroachment is the West Branch, which might have determined the limit of the intrusiveto great depth,and
provideda deep shearedzone.

Relationshipof the Deposit to the Granite Mass.

Judging from outcrop lengthof the deposit, about1,000m, andthe attitude of the ore bodiesas a whole,the erosionof at least 500 m (1,650 ft) of the originaldeposit seems probable. A verticaldepthof 350 m of the present ore bodies is known, givinga totalof 850 m (2,800 ft) asa probable minimum for the vertical range of the mineralization. The depth of the Aguilar granite alreadyerodedis difficultto estimate. A few large inclusions of quartzitenear its westerncontactsuggest a dip on

432

FRANK N. SPENCER, JR.

its westflankof about50 degrees. Most of its outcrop discloses no suchinclusions. The fact that the hornfelsalterationis of more or lessequal intensity on both sidesof the post-alteration West Branch fault suggests that the granitewas relativelyclose to the part of the Aguilar shalenow exposed on the surfacewest of the fault. These rocks have droppedsome 3,000 m sincetheir alteration. Thus the graniteprobablyextendedsomeconsiderable distance above the present erosion surface. Theseinferences leadto the belief that the originalore deposit had a position on the flank of the granitemassin tabular, form, roughlyon an isothermal plane surrounding the granite, and did not extend abovethe top of the intrusive.

Classification oI the Deposit.

At Aguilar it seems quitecertainthat therewas a considerable time interval between the contactmetamorphic period and that of ore deposition. Not onlywasit necessary, from the natureof the two mineralizations, for the temperature to dropconsiderably between the phases, but alsoseveral distinct

periods offaulting occurred during theinterval, theWestBranch, theB-3 and theLaguna. Evenso,thegranite wasstillin a hot,fluidstate at thetermination of the last Lagunafaulting. As the silicates were sheared by the West Branch fault,it follows that.they hadalready crystallized before thegranite had
completely solidified. Thetimelaghasbeen noted by Brown(5, p. 47) whosays, "Since theskarn minerals wererelated in timeto the intrusion, andsince the sulphides came distinctlylater,it follows that the sulphides musthaveappeared after the upper part, if not all, of the granitehadcooled."

The situation appears to be that the silicate alteration was an incidental feature to oredeposition rather thana fundamental one. Such alteration naturallytakes place in rocks thatarealso favorable to oredeposition, although the sources of thetwo arequitedifferent. In fact,the evidence at Aguilarshows
that silicationis a deleteriousfactor rather than a favorable one, as the sul-

phides seem to preferreplacement of thecalcite ratherthanthe silicates. Thus,whilethe deposit is associated with contact metamorphism, which suggests its classification asa "contact metasomatic deposit in limestone," its character moredosely resembles that of a normal replacement deposit. The presence of hightemperature pyrrhotite, which wasfollowed by sphalerite andgalena, places thetemperature of deposition in the hypothermal class of
deposits.
E. AGm.AR, F.C.G.B., PROVNCI.rwJtrjtr,
REPUBLICA ARGENTINA,

Feb. 23, 1950.


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2. Angelelli, V., La geologia y genesis del yaeimiento ferrifero de Zapla,provineia de Jujuy:


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GEOLOGY

OF THE AGUILAR

LEAD-ZINC

MINE.

433

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