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File Created: 24-Jul-85 by BC Geological Survey (BCGS)
Last Edit:  09-Jul-09 by Sarah Meredith-Jones(SMJ)

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NMI 093D9 Pb1
Name NIFTY, THUNDER, THUNDERBIRD, BARITE, THUNDER MOUNTAIN, T-BIRD Mining Division Skeena
BCGS Map 093D058
Status Prospect NTS Map 093D09W
Latitude 52º 34' 52" N UTM 09 (NAD 83)
Longitude 126º 25' 02" W Northing 5828808
Easting 674989
Commodities Silver, Copper, Gold, Zinc, Barite, Lead Deposit Types G06 : Noranda/Kuroko massive sulphide Cu-Pb-Zn
Tectonic Belt Coast Crystalline Terrane Stikine
Capsule Geology

Much of the following is an excerpt from the 1998 report by Gerry Ray of the B.C. Geological Survey Branch (EMPR Fieldwork 1997).

The Nifty Zn-Pb-Ag-Ba prospect is located in the headwaters of the Noosegulch River valley, approximately 23 kilometres northeast of Hagensborg in west-central British Columbia. The area lies within the Stikine Terrane of the Coast Belt and is mostly underlain by various packages of mafic to felsic volcanic, volcaniclastic and sedimentary rocks. Many of these packages are of uncertain age and they are intruded by, and form roof pendants within, plutons of the Coast Belt. The volcanic rocks host several mineral occurrences, of which the Nifty prospect is the most important and best explored. Other occurrences in the area include the Jamtart (093D 023), Bella Coola Chief (093D 009), Malachite Cliff (093D 003) and Keen (093D 007) occurrences.

The character and chemistry of the Nifty mineralization and its hostrocks suggest it represents a volcanogenic disseminated sulphide e xhalite deposit, although an epigenetic origin has been also suggested (Assessment Report 23031).

The area is underlain by varied packages of volcanic and lesser sedimentary rocks that generally form north to northwesterly trending pendants within intrusions of the Coast Plutonic Complex. The stratigraphic and structural relationships of these packages to one another are poorly understood and their ages range from Cenozoic to Triassic or older. The volcanic rocks are mostly of basaltic-andesitic composition but those hosting the Nifty prospect are distinct in containing some felsic lavas and tuffs. The sedimentary rocks include small, generally highly deformed units of black slate, argillite and greywackes. Some greywackes in the northeastern part of the Bella Coola mapsheet contain fossils of middle Jurassic age (GSC Memoirs 324 and 372).

The roof pendant country rocks are intruded by, and in some instances thermally overprinted by, numerous plutons and small stocks of the Coast Plutonic Complex. These are largely of diorite- granodiorite composition and vary from massive rocks to intensely foliated orthogneisses. There is a westerly increase in both the regional metamorphic grade and structural deformation across the district. Consequently, in the southwestern part of the area, the country rocks and some of the older intrusions have been converted to schists and gneisses. North to north-westerly trending horizons of strongly foliated rock are interpreted to be ductile shear zones.

The Nifty, Nifty 1-5 and Thunder claims were first staked and explored in 1929-1930 (EMPR Annual Report 1930, pages A55, A61) after prospectors (W.C. Merkel) working for Consolidated Mining Smelting Company (now Cominco Limited) were attracted to the extensively rust-stained cliffs on the east side of the Noosegulch River. Trenching revealed a zone of sphalerite-galena-barite mineralization and, subsequently, a 9 metre long adit was driven beneath this zone.

Baer (GSC Memoir 372) geologically mapped the region in at a scale of 1:250,000 and considered the volcanic rocks hosting the Nifty prospect to be part of the Middle Jurassic Hazelton Group, as defined by Tipper (GSC Memoir 324). However, Glen Woodsworth of the Geological Survey of Canada, in a talk presented in 1980, suggested that the rocks belong to the Early Cretaceous Gambier Group, host of the Brittania volcanogenic massive sulphide deposit in southwestern British Columbia. This latter correlation was accepted by many company geologists who subsequently explored the area. However, U-Pb dating (Ray, EMPR Fieldwork 1997) demonstrates a pre-164 Ma (Middle Jurassic) age for the rocks hosting the Nifty prospect; this age is supported by the recent discovery of Jurassic marine fossils in the vicinity of Compass Lake, approximately 4 kilometres northeast of the Nifty prospect.

The Nifty stratiform base metal sulphide prospect found in the Noosgulch River Valley, is now thought to be Bathonian in age. Sediments and bimodal volcanism of this age are poorly known and more restricted in the area the previous assignment.

In the late 1970's, Pan Ocean Oil Ltd. mapped and soil sampled an extensive area around the Nifty prospect and the immediate vicinity of the prospect was mapped at a scale of 1:100 by J.R. Woodcock. The company completed five drill holes, collared in hangingwall rocks, in an attempt to intersect downdip extensions of the sphalerite-galena-barite zone. The results of that work have been summarized by Lewis (EMPR Fieldwork 1978 and 1979). Although this drilling did not intersect economic mineralization at Nifty (Assessment Reports 6735, 6836), reconnaissance work resulted in the discovery of another small Pb-Zn showing (later called the Jamtart or West Side occurrence) situated west of Noosegulch Creek, approximately 2.4 kilometres south-west of Nifty. In addition, Pan Ocean discovered a Zn-Pb geochemical anomaly in soils about 6 kilometres south of the Nifty which is called the Keen occurrence (Assessment Report 6836).

In 1980 and 1981, Rio Tinto Canadian Exploration Limited conducted an exploration program over the Nifty and Keen properties (Assessment Reports 8528, 10409). The work included drilling in hangingwall rocks to test for downdip extensions of the Nifty mineralization. The first hole was abandoned at 175 metres due to ground problems; a second parallel hole drilled immediately nearby reached a depth of 495 metres. Assays from drillhole 81-2 from 291 to 293 metres returned values of 0.700 gram per tonne silver, 0.200 gram per tonne gold, 0.2 per cent barite, 0.01 per cent copper, and 0.01 per cent zinc. Both holes intersected sequences of andesitic and dacitic ash and lapilli tuffs with lesser amounts of intrusive rocks, but no economic mineralization was encountered.

Imperial Metals Corporation completed some soil, rock and stream sediment sampling on the Keen and Nifty properties in 1984 and 1989, respectively (Assessment Reports 12747, 19201). It is believed that Imperial Metals drilled into altered footwall rocks immediately east of the Nifty adit but the results of this program are not available. In 1985, Cominco Ltd. once again completed a large program of mapping and sampling over the Nifty and Keen properties without economic success (Assessment Report 14115). In 1992, when the area was restaked, a geological and geochemical program was completed for Inco Exploration and Technical Services Incorporated, and Eastfield Resources Ltd. (Assessment Report 23031).

In 1997 Gerry Ray of the Geological Survey Branch visited the Nifty prospect area to conduct geological investigations and sampling. Most of the detailed work and sampling were conducted in and around the Nifty prospect itself although some time was spent examining and sampling the rocks hosting both the Jamtart occurrence further west and the Keen Pb-Zn soil geochemical anomaly further south. In addition, some mafic volcanics and hornfelsed metasediments close to the Nusatsum pluton, south-west of Matterhorn Mountain were sampled. Chemical plots indicate that the volcanic rocks adjacent to the Nusatsum pluton and those hosting the Jamtart and Keen properties are largely subalkaline, calcalkaline basalts and andesites that have a medium to high K2O content.

The Nifty prospect represents a shallow-marine, low temperature volcanogenic massive sulphide system that is characterized by disseminated mineralization with an atypical VMS metal tenure. An exhalative origin is indicated by: (1) the stratiform and conformable nature of the barite cap which probably represents a chemical sedimentary unit; and (2) the sporadic occurrence of pyritic, red jasper pods and veins in the hosting sequence (particularly in the hangingwall rocks).

The prospect is hosted by a package of bimodal (basalt-andesite and rhyodacite-dacite) volcanic rocks that contains both tholeiitic and calc-alkaline signatures. Variations in the colour and character of the stratigraphic section suggest the hostrocks were deposited in an oxidized, emerging basin environment that progressively changed from shallow marine to subaerial.

A U-Pb date of 164 Ma on zircons from a suite of post-ore quartz porphyry dikes demonstrates that the Nifty mineralization and its hosting package are Middle Jurassic or older. This radiometric age date, the bimodal chemistry of the volcanics, and the presence of Jurassic fossils at Compass Lake, four kilometres north-east (Glen Woodsworth, personal communication, 1997) and in another roof-pendant approximately 50 kilometres to the north-northeast, supports Baer's (GSC Memoir 372) view that the package hosting the Nifty prospect belongs to the Middle Jurassic Hazelton Group.

The Nifty prospect comprises a caprock of massive barite which passes down into a zone of strongly altered tuffs containing sporadic sphalerite, galena and pyrite in a gangue dominated by quartz, barite and feldspar. This mineralization is underlain by a thick and extensive zone of barren silicification that contains disseminated, fine-grained pyrite. This zone probably represents footwall alteration developed adjacent to the original hydrothermal conduits responsible for the overlying Zn-Pb-Ag-Ba mineralization. These conduits are now probably occupied by younger, post-ore dikes.

Microprobe analyses show that the barite in both the barite cap and in the underlying mineralized zone contains moderate amounts of SrO (up to 2.67 weight per cent). The ore minerals consist primarily of sphalerite and galena with trace amounts of tetrahedrite-tennantite, polybasite (9Ag2S.Sb2S3), chalcopyrite and some other unidentified Ag or Pb-rich sulphides, oxides and sulphates. The chalcopyrite occurs as small (<30 microns) inclusions in other sulphides whereas the other trace minerals form either minute and discrete grains in the gangue or late microscopic veinlets. Sphalerite has a low Fe and Cd content and some crystals contain minute exsolution blebs of chalcopyrite. Galena is Ag-poor and is cut rarely by microfractures containing various unidentified Ag or Pb-rich minerals. The gangue includes potassium and barium-rich feldspars which may indicate that the hydrothermal fluids were highly saline.

As well as having anomalous quantities of Ba, Zn and Pb, Ag and Cd, the mineralization is weakly enriched in As, Hg and Sb. The very low values of Au and Cu, and anomalous amounts of Hg (up to 15 ppm) suggests that the Nifty formed in a relatively low temperature hydrothermal system. No Hg-bearing minerals were detected. However, tetrahedrite-tennantite and sphalerite can contain Hg in their crystal lattice and this may account for the moderate Hg anomalies in the mineralization at the Nifty prospect. The distribution of Na2O, MgO and K2O in the footwall rocks indicates the existence of various vertically and laterally distributed alteration zones rich in either albite, chlorite or K-feldspar.

The massive, non-bedded nature of the barite cap, which lacks sedimentary reworking, suggests it precipitated in sea water above a hydrothermal vent or vents. Both the barite and the sulphides were possibly deposited in narrow, fault-controlled topographic depressions on the sea floor, resulting in elongate ore zones. The presence of red jasper veins and pods in the hangingwall succession shows that hydrothermal activity continued in the area well after the formation of the Nifty mineralization.

A postulated model for the Nifty prospect involves oxidized, saline and low temperature hydrothermal fluids rising to the shallow sea floor along conduits that cut tuffs and tuffaceous sediments. Later, these conduits were reactivated by northeast-trending faults which subsequently controlled the emplacement of the quartz porphyry and younger andesitic dikes.

The Nifty rocks have been folded and deformed; they currently lie on the northern, steeply dipping limb of a major anticline. Small-scale fold measurements demonstrate that the major fold has gently (15 to 25 degrees), east to south-east plunging axes. Although the exposed mineralization is relatively minor, blind and elongate orebodies could be present. The plunge of these postulated linear orebodies would be partly controlled by: (1) the strike of the faults marking the original hydrothermal conduits, (2) the orientation of the original sea floor surface, and (3) the easterly trending fold axes. Consequently, detailed geological mapping to determine the geometry of the fold structures, to outline the mineral alteration zones and locate the original hydrothermal conduits are essential prerequisites to any future drilling at the prospect.

The age, bimodal tholeiitic and calc-alkaline chemistry and oxidized, shallow-marine depositional environment of the Nifty hostrocks are similar to the Hazelton Group package hosting the Eskay Creek deposit (104B 007) in northwestern British Columbia, and a correlation is possible. Thus, the volcanic roof pendants in the Bella Coola area and those elsewhere along the Coast Belt should be re-evaluated as potential hostrocks for Eskay Creek-type VMS deposits. Furthermore, because the volcanic rocks that stratigraphically overlie the Nifty prospect show local evidence of hydrothermal activity in the form of jasper veins, it suggests that the subaerial rocks in the package warrant exploration for epithermal targets."

In the late 1970's, Pan Ocean Oil Ltd. mapped and soil sampled an extensive area around the Nifty prospect and the immediate vicinity of the prospect was mapped at a scale of 1:100 by J.R. Woodcock. The company completed five drill holes, collared in hangingwall rocks, in an attempt to intersect downdip extensions of the sphalerite-galena-barite zone. The results of that work have been summarized by Lewis (EMPR Fieldwork 1978 and 1979). Although this drilling did not intersect economic mineralization at Nifty (Assessment Reports 6735, 6836), reconnaissance work resulted in the discovery of another small Pb-Zn showing (later called the Jamtart or West Side occurrence) situated west of Noosegulch Creek, approximately 2.4 kilometres south-west of Nifty. In addition, Pan Ocean discovered a Zn-Pb geochemical anomaly in soils about 6 kilometres south of the Nifty which is called the Keen occurrence (Assessment Report 6836). Sampling completed in 1977 by R. Dickenson and M. McClaren returned values ranging from trace to 164.6 grams per tonne silver, 0.006 to 0.033 per cent copper, 0.60 to 6.15 per cent lead and 0.50 to 4.95 per cent zinc (Property File Rimfire Department of Mines and Petroleum Resources, 1977).

In 1980 and 1981, Rio Tinto Canadian Exploration Limited conducted an exploration program over the Nifty and Keen properties (Assessment Reports 8528, 10409). The work included drilling in hangingwall rocks to test for downdip extensions of the Nifty mineralization. The first hole was abandoned at 175 metres due to ground problems; a second parallel hole drilled immediately nearby reached a depth of 495 metres. Assays from drillhole 81-2 from 291 to 293 metres returned values of 0.700 gram per tonne silver, 0.200 gram per tonne gold, 0.2 per cent barite, 0.01 per cent copper, and 0.01 per cent zinc. Both holes intersected sequences of andesitic and dacitic ash and lapilli tuffs with lesser amounts of intrusive rocks, but no economic mineralization was encountered.

Dimac Resource Corporation held the Nifty property in 1983, before it was optioned to Imperial Metals Corporation a year later. Imperial Metals Corporation completed some soil, rock and stream sediment sampling on the Keen and Nifty properties in 1984 and 1989, respectively (Assessment Reports 12747, 19201). It is believed that Imperial Metals drilled into altered footwall rocks immediately east of the Nifty adit but the results of this program are not available. In 1985, Cominco Ltd. once again completed a large program of mapping and sampling over the Nifty and Keen properties without economic success (Assessment Report 14115). In 1992, when the area was restaked, a geological and geochemical program was completed for Inco Exploration and Technical Services Incorporated, and Eastfield Resources Ltd. (Assessment Report 23031).

In 1997 Gerry Ray of the Geological Survey Branch visited the Nifty prospect area to conduct geological investigations and sampling. Most of the detailed work and sampling were conducted in and around the Nifty prospect itself although some time was spent examining and sampling the rocks hosting both the Jamtart occurrence further west and the Keen Pb-Zn soil geochemical anomaly further south. In addition, some mafic volcanics and hornfelsed metasediments close to the Nusatsum pluton, south-west of Matterhorn Mountain were sampled. Chemical plots indicate that the volcanic rocks adjacent to the Nusatsum pluton and those hosting the Jamtart and Keen properties are largely subalkaline, calcalkaline basalts and andesites that have a medium to high K2O content.

In 1997, Wildrose Resources Ltd. of the Eastfield Group, acquired the Thunderbird property, which includes the Nifty, Keen, Cutfinger, and Jamtart occurrences. After the release of the above cited report by Gerry Ray (EMPR Fieldwork 1997) in February 1998, Wildrose Resources planned an aggressive exploration program for the property in 1998. The T-Bird 1-4, Thunder, and Bird claims are held in good standing by Wildrose Resources Ltd. of Vancouver until October 1999.

Bibliography
EMPR AR 1930-A61; 1931-A34
EMPR ASS RPT *6735, *6836, *8528, *9586, *9748, *10409, 12747, 14115,
EMPR EXPL 1978-E196; 1980-314; 1984-299; 1985-C281
EMPR FIELDWORK *1997, pp. 201-20-28; *1978, pp. 94-95; 2001, pp.
119-134; EM FIELDWORK 2002, pp. 65-75, 131
EMPR GEOL 1977-1981, p. 103
EMPR OF 1999-2; 1999-14
EMPR PF (Report on the Nifty Group: Bella Coola District, 1963; Cominco Ltd. Nifty Property Year End Summary, January 2, 1986 and Report: Geology of the Nifty Showing, December 18, 1985; Wildrose Resources Ltd. Corporate Information,
March/April 1998; Assays, 2001; Photos, 1996 and 2001)
GSC MAP 1327A; 1424A
GSC MEM 324; 372
GCNL #49,#163, 1981; #4 (Jan.7), #29 (Feb.11), 1998
PR REL Wildrose Resources Ltd., Nov. 6, Oct. 22, 1997; Jan. 6,
Feb. 9, 1998

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