New Tricks For An Old Elephant: Revising Concepts Of Coeur D’Alene Geology
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New Tricks For An Old Elephant: Revising Concepts Of Coeur D’Alene Geology

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    The Coeur d'Alene Mining District of northern Idaho is remarkable for its number of large ore bodies and for the amount of its historical production of lead, zinc and silver (Fig. 1). Since veins were first discovered in 1884, more than 127 Mt (140 million st) of ore have been produced from narrow, high-grade veins. Mining continues at the Lucky Friday, Galena and Sunshine mines (Fig. 2). All have been in production for decades. At these mines, more efficient mining and exploration techniques have reduced costs while adding significant new reserves. Even the old Bunker Hill Mine, where ore was first found in 1875, continues operation on a limited basis, partly involving production of world-class pyromorphite specimens. Until recently, the Coeur Mine was also a profitable silver producer. Other large producers have included the Star-Morning, Hecla, Page, Standard-Mammoth, Hercules and Gold Hunter mines (Fig. 2). The first deposits were discovered by prospectors who spilled over from the Murray gold mining district, 24 km (15 miles) to the north. The Bunker Hill Mine was founded the year after the first veins were discovered. Bunker Hill has now operated for more than 100 years. Production includes 2.3 Mt (2.6 million st) of lead, 1.1 Mt (1.2 million st) of zinc and 4.1 kt (132 million oz) of silver. Total district production through 1996 (Springer, 1997) amounted to 7.3 Mt (8.1 million st) of lead, 3 Mt (3.3 million st) of zinc, and 34.5 kt (1.109 billion oz) of silver. This record establishes the district as the largest recorded producer of silver in the world, while also yielding major quantities of lead and zinc. Only Potosi, Bolivia, may have produced more silver, although records are unclear. Despite the district's longevity, historic production and current activity, the published literature on the district lags behind with regard to recent concepts of district geology. The most recent comprehensive US Geological Survey (USGS) bulletins (Hobbs et al., 1965; Fryklund, 1964) are dated. Much research in the last half century has been short-lived or geographically restricted because the district is large and its geology is complex - and even this research tends to remain unpublished. Thus, it has been difficult for in- [ ]
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