Regional Geology

img_regional_geologyThe unique gold endowment of the Northern Black Hills of South Dakota is attributed to the regional-scale structural intersection of the Trans-Hudson Orogenic Zone and Lewis and Clark Lineament. The Homestake District is geologically located on the boundary of the Superior and Wyoming Geologic Plates, which collided 1.8 billion years ago, forming the north trending Trans-Hudson Orogenic Zone and the Homestake iron-formation gold deposit. At thirty-eight million years-ago, geologic processes were reactivated and a new series of gold deposits formed in relation to intrusion magma along the west-northwest trending Lewis and Clark Lineament. This second gold event was spatially superimposed on the Homestake District and the earlier Homestake gold event.

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In the context of defining success and failure in the exploration business, it has been said that “The odds are best in the shadow of the head frame”. This obvious, important exploration principle reflects the fact that ore forming processes tend to occur as multiple events and produce multiple deposits in favorable geologic settings. The Homestake District is certainly a favorable geologic setting with a number of unique geologic gold deposit types that have yielded 44.6 million ounces of gold production, three of which are: (i) The Proterozoic-age Homestake iron-formation gold deposit that produced approximately 40 million ounces of gold; (ii) Tertiary-age replacement gold deposits; and (iii) Eo-Cambrian Homestake paleoplacer gold deposits.

Despite the prolific production history of the Homestake District, the area is largely underexplored. Virtually all mines in the District were discovered by virtue of the fact that the deposits were exposed at surface, or were discovered through underground exploration conducted from producing mines in close proximity. Homestake Mining Company believed in the potential for a repeat of the Homestake Mine under cover and undertook a concerted 70 million dollar effort in the 1980′s and 1990′s to explore the District. Low gold prices persisted through the balance of the program and eventually forced the suspension of the work in 1994. Over the past 18 years, virtually no further gold exploration has been conducted in the District.