Preliminary geologic map of the Independence Valley NE quadrangle, Elko County, Nevada

Authors: Andrew V. Zuza, Christopher D. Henry, Michael W. Ressel, Charles H. Thorman, Seth Dee, and Jeffrey E. Blackmon
Year: 2018
Series: Open-File Report 2018-04
Format: plate: 39 x 31 inches, color; text: 12 pages, b/w
Scale: 1:24,000

The Independence Valley NE 7.5-minute quadrangle encompasses the northern Pequop Mountains and adjacent Goshute Valley in eastern Elko County. Active mining in the northeast corner of the quadrangle is focused on newly recognized Carlin-type gold deposits in the east-tilted Pequop Mountains that are hosted in a geographic and geologic setting distinct from similar deposits elsewhere in Nevada. Mapping was conducted in 2017 and 2018.

The northern Pequop Mountains are comprised of east-southeast-dipping Cambrian through Permian sedimentary rocks. Cambrian and Ordovician rocks are metamorphosed and strongly foliated. Although contacts on the geologic map suggest a parallel undeformed stratigraphy, the lower and middle Paleozoic units are variably deformed with local boudinage development, shearing, thrust faulting, and folding. Upper Paleozoic rocks exhibit open folds. This deformation is strongly partitioned to the mechanically weaker horizons, with some beds completely undeformed. Well-developed lineations and asymmetric shear fabrics across the range suggest top-southeast shear. A large thrust fault, named the Independence thrust, cuts across the western and central parts of the map area, juxtaposing lower Paleozoic rocks over younger Paleozoic rocks with an apparent southeast transport direction (present-day orientation). Total offset along this thrust fault is a minimum of two kilometers, based on mapped cutoff relationships. Sparse Jurassic sills and dikes intrude the Paleozoic stratigraphy, including the Independence thrust, which requires this structure to be older.

In the northern map area, the Pequop structural plate consists of Devonian rocks thrust over Pennsylvanian-Permian strata, which are juxtaposed over Ordovician rocks along the enigmatic Pequop fault. This fault has been regarded as a thrust (Thorman, 1970) or a low-angle normal fault (Camilleri, 2010). We interpret that the Pequop plate consists of the structurally highest part of the Independence thrust system—i.e., hanging wall Devonian rocks thrust over footwall Permian strata—that was faulted over Ordovician rocks via the low-angle Pequop normal fault system during an unconstrained phase of post-Jurassic extension. Eastward tilting and exhumation of the entire range was accommodated by late Cenozoic high-angle normal fault activity on the western flank of the range.

In Goshute Valley, lacustrine gravels are deposited in beach bars, and spits recording the high-stand and recessional stages of latest Pleistocene Lake Clover (Munroe and Laabs, 2013). Lacustrine sediments are buttressed against Pleistocene fan deposits (Qfi) along a lake high-stand shoreline at an elevation of approximately 1765 m.

This geologic map was funded in part by the USGS National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program under STATEMAP award number G17AC00212, 2018.

Read about the authors

Mike Ressel, author of two of these newly released maps, was featured in the Geological Society of Nevada “Faces of GSN” in November. You can read his story here:

NBMG staff pages

You can also read about the other geologic mappers and their work on the individual NBMG staff pages:

New Geologic Maps in Northern Nevada: Mount Rose NW and Herder Creek Quadrangles



Preliminary Geologic Map of the South Half of the Mount Rose NW Quadrangle, Washoe County, Nevada

 Authors: Nicholas H. Hinz and Alan R. Ramelli
Year: 2016
Series: Open-File Report 16-6
Format: plate: 35 x 29 inches, color; text: 3 pages, b/w
Scale: 1:24,000

This quadrangle straddles the north end of the Carson Range directly west-southwest of Reno and abuts the Nevada-California border. The Truckee River and Interstate 80 transect the northwest quarter of this quadrangle. This quadrangle also encompasses part of the rural community along Thomas Creek in the southeast quarter, and segments of the Steamboat irrigation ditch and part of the City of Reno urban area fall within the northeast corner.

The bedrock exposures in the quadrangle consist of Mesozoic granitic basement and Tertiary volcanic and sedimentary rocks. The Tertiary section includes a complex section of lavas, intrusions, and volcanic sedimentary rocks. Many of these volcanic and sedimentary rocks were derived from a ~6-7 Ma ancestral Cascades volcanic center in the Mount Rose quadrangle, directly south of this quadrangle. Plio-Pleistocene basaltic andesite lavas and rhyolite domes locally rest on the late Miocene volcanic rocks in the middle part of the quadrangle. Principal surficial deposits include late Pliocene to modern alluvial fan and fluvial deposits, Quaternary glacial deposits, and late Quaternary mass wasting deposits. Notable deep-seated landslide complexes reside in all major drainages—including Thomas Creek, Hunter Creek, Bronco Creek, and the smaller catchments along the west edge of the quadrangle. Most of the Carson Range is west-tilted with west-dipping Cenozoic strata. However, within the Mount Rose NW quadrangle, the dip domain flips and most all the Cenozoic strata dips east with numerous west-dipping normal faults. These west-dipping normal faults are cut by younger east-dipping normal faults of the Mount Rose fault zone on the east side of the range.  East-facing Quaternary fault scarps were observed on the east side of the range and west-facing Quaternary fault scarps were observed on the west side of the range.

This geologic map was funded in part by the USGS National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program under STATEMAP award number G15AC00240, 2016.


Preliminary Geologic Map of the Herder Creek Quadrangle, Elko County, Nevada
Author: Seth Dee and Michael W. Ressel
Year: 2016
Series: Open-File Report 16-5
Format: plate: 33 x 29 inches, color; text: 5 pages, b/w
Scale: 1:24,000

The map area covers part of Starr Valley, the upper reaches of the Humboldt River, and the northwest part of the East Humboldt Range.

The Ruby Mountains–East Humboldt Range metamorphic core complex is exposed in the high-relief range front in the southeast part of the quadrangle. In this area, the core complex is comprised of intensely metamorphosed and highly attenuated Neoarchean through Mississippian(?) strata, thought to be part of the platform facies of the Proterozoic through Paleozoic passive margin. Contractional structures exposed in the map area are complex and difficult to discern due to overprinted extensional deformation but are likely part of the Winchell Lake nappe (WLN), a kilometer scale, southward-closing recumbent fold-nappe mapped in adjacent quadrangles to the east. Overturned Devonian to Neoproterozoic(?) meta-sedimentary strata exposed at the highest structural levels are interpreted to be in thrust contact with an underlying, upright sequence of Cambrian to Neoproterozoic(?) paragneiss and Paleoproterozoic to Neoarchean(?) orthogneiss in the core of the fold. This structural interpretation matches those from the adjacent Welcome quadrangle (McGrew and Snoke, 2015; NBMG Map 184). Rocks in the upper part of the metamorphic core complex are pervasively overprinted by a WNW-directed mylonitic shear fabric, which records middle to late Cenozoic extensional exhumation from mid-crustal depths. Abundant sills and lenses of less deformed Oligocene to Cretaceous garnet-muscovite leucogranite and biotite monzogranite intrude all metamorphic rocks in the quadrangle.

The west side of the East Humboldt Range is bound by the active, W-dipping Ruby Mountains frontal fault zone, which extends for more than 60 km to the southwest. A west step-over in the Ruby Mountains fault south of the Herder Creek drainage results in a broad, hanging wall uplift underlain by middle-Miocene to Pliocene strata comprised of NE-dipping to flat-lying tuffaceous sandstone, shale, and conglomerate of the Humboldt Formation and younger units. A tephra in the uppermost exposed section yielded a 40Ar/39Ar age on feldspar of 5.15 ± 1.82 Ma.

Repeated late Quaternary surface-rupturing earthquakes along active traces of the frontal fault are recorded by increased uplift and dissection of Quaternary surfaces as a function of relative age. Fault scarps in Holocene deposits have up to 2.5 m of vertical separation while glacial outwash deposits from the two most recent Pleistocene glacial advances have scarp heights ranging from 6 to 32 m. The upper reaches of several drainages have well-preserved glacial moraine deposits that record the Angel Lake and Lamoille glacial advances. Adjacent to the Humboldt River, in the northwest corner of the quadrangle, 3 sets of abandoned terrace surfaces are preserved, including a broad surface comprised of gravel-rich alluvium that was likely deposited during a period of increased discharge during the latest Pleistocene.

This geologic map was funded in part by the USGS National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program under STATEMAP award number G15AC00240, 2016.