In many ore deposits throughout the world, brecciation often accompanies or occurs in association with mineralization (Sillitoe, 1985). Such is the case in the Tintic Mining District (Ag-Pb-Zn) of north-central Utah, where unique breccia features called pebble dikes occur alongside significant mineralization. Pebble dikes are tabular bodies of breccia, which consist of angular to rounded clasts of quartzite, shale, carbonate, and minor igneous rock cemented in a fine-grained clastic matrix. All clasts now lie above or adjacent to corresponding source rocks. Dikes are thin, typically less than 0.3 m wide to as much as 1 m, and can exceed 100 m in length. The average of the largest clast sizes is less than 3 cm but correlates positively with pebble dike width. Contacts are sharp and an envelope of fine breccia surrounds roughly half of the dikes. Pebble dikes are mostly hosted in an Eocene rhyolite lava flow, which displays argillic to silicic alteration when in contact with a pebble dike, but are also hosted in an assortment of folded Paleozoic sedimentary rocks. The dikes show a strong northeast trend in orientation, following a regional fabric of northeast-trending strike-slip and oblique-slip faults.The formation of pebble dikes has been historically attributed to the intrusion of the Silver City Stock, the Tintic District's main productive intrusion (Morris and Lovering, 1979; Hildreth and Hannah, 1996; Kim, 1997; Krahulec and Briggs, 2006). However, pebble dikes are spatially associated with a previously unrecognized porphyritic unit, informally named the porphyry of North Lily, which is texturally, mineralogically, and chemically distinct from the Silver City Stock, and like pebble dikes, is emplaced in northeast-trending plugs and dikes. Pebble dikes show a strong spatial correlation to outcrops of the porphyry of North Lily. Additionally, clasts of the porphyry of North Lily have been found in pebble dikes, while pebble dike quartzite clasts have been found as xenoliths in the porphyry of North Lily. These similarities and interactions suggest simultaneous formation. Low-grade alteration associated with pebble dikes indicates that they formed at elevated temperatures (<150°C). Stable isotope characteristics of rhyolite altered during the emplacement of pebble dikes suggests that the dikes formed in the presence of heated groundwater, with little to no magmatic water association. The overall physical, spatial, and chemical characteristics of pebble dikes of the Tintic Mining District suggest that they formed by the mobilization of breccia in the explosive escape of groundwater that had been heated by the porphyry of North Lily. This escape occurred along pre-existing northeast-trending faults and fractures. Pebble dikes then became pathways for later ore fluids, easing the creation of the district's abundant mineral resources.



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Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Geological Sciences



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pebble dikes, breccia dikes, Tintic Mining District, ore-related breccia, stable isotopes



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Geology Commons