US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in Economic Geology, v. 102, pp. 239–256.


Gold deposits have been mined in the Carolina slate belt from the early 1800s to recent times, with most of the production from large mines in South Carolina. The Russell mine, one of the larger producers in North Carolina, is located in the central Uwharrie Mountains, and produced over 470 kg of gold. Ore grades averaged about 3.4 grams per tonne (g/t), with higher-grade zones reported. The Russell deposit is interpreted to be a sediment-hosted, gold-rich, base-metal poor, volcanogenic massive sulfide deposit in which gold was remobilized, in part, during Ordovician metamorphism. The ore was deposited syngenetically with laminated siltstones of the late Proterozoic Tillery Formation that have been metamorphosed to a lower greenschist facies. The Tillery Formation regionally overlies subaerial to shallow marine rhyolitic volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks of the Uwharrie Formation and underlies the marine volcanic and sedimentary rocks of the Cid Formation. Recent mapping has shown that a rhyolitic dome near the Russell mine was extruded during the deposition of the lower part of the Tillery Formation, at about the same time as ore deposition. Relict mafic rock fragments present in the ore zones suggest contemporaneous bimodal (rhyolite-basalt) volcanism. The maximum formation age of the Russell deposit is younger than 558 Ma, which is similar to that of the larger, well known Brewer, Haile, and Ridgeway deposits of South Carolina.