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Research / Discovery

Geologists take a new look at Colorado's Mineral Belt

October 28, 2010

Geoscientists at Colorado State University are conducting work along the Colorado Front Range to improve understanding on how Colorado was first assembled tectonically, and they are using the state's historic mines to help chart Colorado's geological history.

Deep weaknesses in the Earth's crust?

The Colorado Mineral Belt falls along Colorado’s historic mining communities from Boulder to Silverton, hitting Central City, Breckenridge, Lake City, and Aspen along the way. It has long been hypothesized that all of the mines lie relatively along the same line in Colorado because the belt marked old and deep weaknesses in the Earth’s crust.

Why specific metals deposited

“We were interested in why specific metals were deposited along this path across Colorado, and our thought was to test the long-standing idea that perhaps the Colorado Mineral Belt was the line where North American tectonic plates came together about 1,700 million years ago,” said John Ridley, professor of geosciences in CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources.

"There are too few differences between the rocks on either side of the belt. We are confident that this belt does not mark the line where North American tectonic plates came together, but we do know that the belt is of historic interest in better understanding Colorado’s geological history.”

Presentation to Geological Society of America

Ridley and his doctoral student, Zak Wessel, in collaboration with Jonathan Cain of the U.S. Geological Survey are presenting this research at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. About 6,000 scientists are expected to attend.


Contact: Kimberly Sorenesen
E-mail: Kimberly.Sorensen@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-0757