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Cripple Creek District, Teller Co., Colorado, USA

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Location is approximate, estimate based on other nearby localities.
 
Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 38° North , 105° West (est.)
Margin of Error:~48km


The Cripple Creek district, in the southern part of the Front Range, about 20 miles southwest of Colorado Springs, is one of the most famous gold camps in the world. It is distinctly different from the other districts of the Front Range in having ore deposits associated with an extinct volcano of Miocene age and in having had an exceedingly large output of gold-telluride ores. The chief towns are Cripple Creek and Victor.

The historic rush of prospectors to Pikes Peak in 1859 resulted in no important discoveries, and it was not until 1874 that prospecting was carried on in the Cripple Creek district. A report that H. T. Wood, while connected with the Hayden survey, had found gold near Mount Pisgah brought a number of men into the district, but no valuable deposits were found. Occasional prospecting was carried on in the district from 1880 to 1890 by Bob Womack, who found some good ore and located the El Paso claim in Poverty Gulch. In 1891, E. M. De la Vergne and F. F. Fisbee bought the El Paso and located the El Dorado claim. The first real "strike" however, was made by W. S. Stratton, who sampled a ledge of granite on the slope of Battle Mountain and found it to assay $380 to the ton. On July 4, 1891, he located the Independence claim, which later became one of the richest mines in the district.


The ore deposits include veins or fissure fillings, irregular bodies due to mineralization of shattered ground, and mineralized collapse breccia. Deposits of all three groups have the same general mineral composition and show no consistent change in composition down to the lowest levels exposed.

Stages of ore deposition.-The ore deposits were derived from the same general source as the dikes and like them were formed in several stages. Three stages of mineralization have been recognized. It is noteworthy that although quartz, fluorspar, and pyrite belong to all stages, their appearance differs in each stage. Other minerals, if present in more than one stage, are conspicuous only in ore.
The first stage was characterized mainly by local intense corrosion of country rock and deposition of quartz and adularia and massive aggregates of dark-purple fluorspar and quartz with comparatively coarse grained pyrite. The quartz and adularia occur both as dense masses locally called jasper and as coatings in vugs in corroded or honeycombed granite. The constituents of the quartz-adularia aggregate may have been derived from corrosion of granite and volcanic rocks at great depth, with redeposition at higher levels. The large amount of fluorine, however, represented by the dense fluorspar, and the sulfur, represented by pyrite, were most probably original constituents of the rising solutions.
Some bodies of honeycombed granite, chiefly in the Portland, Ajax, and Elkton mines, were later permeated by telluride solutions and became rich ore, but others were not reached by the tellurides and are almost barren. The veins of dense fluorspar and quartz are as much as 2 feet thick but are barren except where fractured and veined by later minerals. In places they form an apparently unconnected step like succession of lenticular veins. Some of them are very thin but persist for coniderable distances. They have been noted rarely outside the breccia area and the major shear zones in the
adjacent granite.
Exeept that adularia is lacking, the minerals of the seeond stage include those of the first but differ from them somewhat in appearance. The fluorspar is usually a lighter purple, the quartz is milky to somewhat smoky, and the pyrite is fine-grained and inconspicuous. Other minerals common to this stage are dolomite or ankerite in small rounded crystals, celestite, and the tellurides.
The most common telluride is calaverite, but considerable sylvanite and krennerite are also present. The term sylvanite is frequently applied by the miners to silvery calaverite and the term calaverite to yellowish or
slightly tarnished crystals, fine-grained aggregates of which may be confused with fine-grained pale-yellow pyrite. Other tellurides, which are found in small quantity are petzite, hessite, and a silver-copper telluride. The silver-copper telluride was found in considerable quantity in the Findlay vein above level 16 of the Vindicator mine. It seems probable that much of the material called gray copper by the miners but which contains as much as 2,000 or 3,000 ounces of silver to the ton may be partly or wholly silver-copper telluride. Grains or wires of free gold accompany the tellurides in places to a depth as great as 2,900 feet.
Roscoelite, the vanadium mica, is found in places as small soft drusy masses and locally adds a green coloring matter along the edges of the veins or in inclusions. A little barite and small quantities of the base-metal sulfides, principally sphalerite, galena, and tetrahedrite, have been found. The second-stage minerals occur mostly in open though narrow cracks and in vugs. In the Cresson mine rocks with a green roseoelite stain, delicate crystals of celestite, and conspicuous amounts of sulfide are supposed to be fair indications of a nearby ore shoot, but elsewhere the same minerals have been found without leading to any ore shoot. For the most part the solutions of the second stage merely filled or lined cavities with minerals that may have been derived by corrosion of the walls of the conduits in or below the crater. The mineral assemblage of this stage suggests a moderate to rather low temperature. Deposition of tellurides, which marked the end of the second stage, indicates the accession of primary magmatic constituents.
The third stage is represented chiefly by smoky to colorless quartz in small to large drusy crystals and by yellow druses of chalcedony. Fine-grained pyrite occurs in thin radiating needles resembling marcasite and in small drusy patches of pyritohedrons. Calcite occurs in small scalenohedrons, and locally cinnabar fills coatings on or near the pyrite. Rarely minute grains of fluorspar are present in barren places and cannot be regarded as a likely indication of ore. Quartz of the third stage has in places replaced celestite, dolomite, and calcite.
The third stage of deposition was comparatively insignificant. It included at least one substage in which solutions were still rising from a volcanic source, but in others the solutions may have been of superficial origin. The presence of cinnabar indicates rising solutions; the quartz, calcite,and fine-grained pyrite may be supergene but are probably also hypogene. The crusts and minute stalactites of chalcedony in vugs have evidently been deposited by meteoric water.
U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 223

Some aspects of the above copy from USGS Prof. Paper 223 (Lovering, 1950) are a bit dated. The Cripple Creek District is the greatest example of a class of ore deposit known as alkaline igneous rock related gold deposits. A significant amount of work has been done on this class of ore deposit in recent years. For those interested in more modern interpretations of the geology and hydrothermal evolution of Cripple Creek and other alkaline igneous rock related gold deposits see Jensen (2003, 2007), Kelley and Ludington (2002) and Mutschler et al (1998).


Mineral List

Mineral list contains entries from the region specified including sub-localities

Acanthite

Actinolite

Aegirine

'Albite-Anorthite Series'

'Allanite Group'

Altaite

Alunite

Alunogen

Analcime

Ancylite-(Ce)

Andradite

Anglesite

Anhydrite

Ankerite

'Anorthoclase'

'Apatite'

Aragonite

Arfvedsonite

Arsenopyrite

Augite

Autunite

Baddeleyite

Baryte

'Biotite'

'Blaubleibender Covellite'

Boulangerite

Bournonite

Cacoxenite

Calaverite

Calcite

Celadonite

Celestine

Chalcanthite

Chalcopyrite

'Chlorite Group'

Chrysocolla

Cinnabar

Coffinite

Coloradoite

Copper

Corkite

Corundum

Covellite

Creedite

'Crossite'

Dolomite

'Electrum'

Emmonsite

Enargite

Epidote

Epsomite

Fayalite

Ferrimolybdite

Fluorite

Forsterite

Galena

Gearksutite

Goethite

Gold

Gypsum

Haüyne

Hematite

Hessite

'Hornblende'

Hübnerite

Hyalophane

Ilsemannite

Jarosite

Kaersutite

Kaolinite

'K Feldspar'

'var: Adularia'

Krennerite

Laumontite

Låvenite ?

'Limonite'

Magnesiochromite

Magnetite

Mallardite

Manjiroite

Marcasite

'Melilite Group'

Melonite

Mercury

Meta-autunite

Metatorbernite

Mirabilite

Molybdenite

Montmorillonite

Muscovite

var: Sericite

Nagyágite

Natrolite

Nepheline

Nontronite

Nosean

'Olivine'

Opal

Orthoclase

Pargasite

Pentahydrite (TL)

Petzite

Phlogopite

Planerite ?

'Planerite-Turquoise Series'

'Psilomelane'

Pyrite

Pyrrhotite

Quartz

var: Amethyst

var: Chalcedony

var: Smoky Quartz

Rhodochrosite

Rockbridgeite

Roscoelite

Rutile

Sabugalite

Saléeite

Sanidine

'Serpentine Subgroup'

Sillimanite

Sodalite

Sonoraite

'Specularite'

Sphalerite

'Stibiconite'

Stibnite

'Stilbite'

Strengite

Sylvanite

Talc

Tellurite

Tellurium

Tennantite

Tetrahedrite

Thalénite-(Y)

Titanite

Topaz

Torbernite

Turquoise

Tyuyamunite

Uraninite

var: Pitchblende

'Uvite Series'

'Wad'

Wavellite

Wulfenite

Zinkenite

Zircon

Zirkelite


122 valid minerals. 1 (TL) - type locality of valid minerals.

Rock Types Recorded

Entries shown in red are rocks recorded for this region.

Note: this is a very new system on mindat.org and data is currently VERY limited. Please bear with us while we work towards adding this information!

Rock list contains entries from the region specified including sub-localities


Localities in this Region

USA
USA

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References

U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 54
U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 223
Carnein C.& Bartos P. (2005): The Cripple Creek Mining District Colorado Mineralogical Record 36:2 pp 143-185.
Tschernich, R. (1992): Zeolites of the World, 65

Jensen, E.P., 2003, Magmatic and hydrothermal evolution of the Cripple Creek gold deposit, Colorado and comparisons with regional and global magmatic-hydrothermal systems associated with alkaline magmatism [Ph.D. thesis]: University of Arizona, 846 p.

Jensen, E.P., and Barton, M.D, 2007, Geology, petrochemistry, and time-space evolution of the Cripple Creek district, Colorado: Geological Society of America Field Guide 10, p. 63-78.

Kelley, K.D., and Ludington, S., 2002, Cripple Creek and other alkaline-related gold deposits in the southern Rocky Mountains, USA: Influence of regional tectonics: Mineralium Deposita, v. 37, p. 38-60.

Mutschler, F. E., Larson, E.E., and Ross, M.L., 1998, Potential for Alkaline Igneous Rock-Related Gold Deposits in the Colorado Plateau Laccolithic Centers, in Friedman, J. D., and Huffman, A.C., Jr., ed., Laccolith Complexes of Southeastern Utah: Tectonic Control and Time of Emplacement--Workshop Proceedings: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2158, p. 233-252.


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