Precambrian Research ( IF 4.427 ) Pub Date : 2020-07-15 , DOI: 10.1016/j.precamres.2020.105860 Carol A. Finn; Michael L. Zientek; Heather L. Parks; Dana E. Peterson
Geophysical models characterize the exposed and interpreted buried extent of the Stillwater Complex, critical for understanding the origin of the layered mafic intrusion and its associated high-grade platinum group element resources. The 3D models, constrained by gravity, magnetic, xenolith, seismic, borehole, and rock property data indicate that the likely maximum extent of the Stillwater Complex beneath Phanerozoic cover is ~10 times greater than its outcrop, ~2240 km2. The thickness values are poorly constrained but vary from ~7000 to 12,000 m, depending on crustal and mantle density variations and depths to the top of the lower crust and mantle. This thickness may include dense metasedimentary units of the basin into which the Stillwater Complex intruded. Using the modeled thickness results in a volume estimate of ~24,700 km3, albeit poorly constrained. New analyses of xenoliths from the Cretaceous Sliderock and Suzie Peak intrusions produce ages of 2706–2716 Ma, corresponding to the age of the Stillwater Complex, and 2813 Ma, corresponding to the age of Archean gneissic basement. Seismic reflectors in inferred Archean crystalline basement, possibly including the Stillwater Complex, dip ~25–30° north, with segments dipping as much as 70° north. Layered reflectors beneath the Phanerozoic sedimentary section and above the inferred Archean crystalline basement may represent metasedimentary units, perhaps a southern extension of the Mesoproterozoic Belt Basin. The potential field models and the seismic reflection data suggest that the Stillwater Complex was dipping northward prior to deposition of Cambrian strata, perhaps uplifted in the late Archean or Proterozoic as previously proposed, and that during Laramide times, faulting and intrusions highly disrupted the complex. Temperature measurements from boreholes help constrain the depths of feasible mining of the complex.