The Coeur d'Alene district in northern Idaho is a world class Pb-Ag mesothermal vein system that has produced about 360 million ounces of silver, lead, and zinc since the 1880s. Despite the long history of exploration and production, the district does not have a predictive model for exploration based on a sound understanding of structural controls on the silver ore deposits; this is certainly the case for the Sunshine Mine and surrounding area. Fault kinematic history in the district shows a regional scale fault system reactivated over time with dextral, sinistral, and dip-slip displacement. The fault system is superimposed on regional deformation fabrics that were examined for this study in the Sunshine Mine area. Cleavage sets observed in the Sunshine mine area, distinguished by orientation and superposition relationships, are consistent with the findings of Smith (2004) which defined cleavage sets referred to as S1, S2, and S3. Two additional deformation fabrics that appear spatially tied to fault zones formed between development of cleavages S2 and S3. The multiple cleavages, fault zones, and their intersections are interpreted to act as pathways for hydrothermal fluids associated with vein formation and silver ore deposition. Thin section kinematic analysis of vein and shear zone samples defined a dip-slip sense of shear associated with the Sterling vein. Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) analysis of vein and shear zone samples failed to define a lattice preferred crystallographic orientation that defined shear sense. Similarly, cathodoluminescence (CL) analysis of thin section textures failed to define a dominant shear sense and fault kinematics. Nevertheless, additional study using these techniques is warranted. Both field observation and thin section analysis demonstrate a direct relationship between shear zones, veins, and mineralization potential, clarifying the need for detailed fault maps for the Sunshine Mine area and Coeur d'Alene district.
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Relationships between deformation and mesothermal veins in the Sunshine Mine Area, Coeur d'Alene district, Idaho