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Principally we discuss ores as sources of

However, there are many other resources
bound in minerals which we find useful
How many can we think of?
Ore Deposits
A deposit contains an unusually high
concentration of particular element(s)
This means the element(s) have been
concentrated in a particular area due to
some process
What sort of processes might concentrate
these elements in one place?
Gold Au
Distribution of Au in the crust = 3.1 ppb by
weight 3.1 units gold / 1,000,000,000 units
of total crust = 0.00000031% Au
Concentration of Au needed to be
economically viable as a deposit = few g/t
3 g / 1000kg = 3g/ 1,000,000 g = 0.00031%
Need to concentrate Au at least 1000-fold to
be a viable deposit
Rare mines can be up to a few percent gold
(extremely high grade)!
Ore minerals
Minerals with economic value are ore
Minerals often associated with ore minerals
but which do not have economic value are
gangue minerals
Key to economic deposits are geochemical
traps metals are transported and
precipitated in a very concentrated fashion
Gold is almost 1,000,000 times less abundant
than is iron
Economic Geology
Understanding of how metalliferous minerals
become concentrated key to ore deposits
Getting them out at a profit determines
where/when they come out
Black smoker metal precipitation
Ore deposit environments
Cumulate deposits fractional crystallization processes can
concentrate metals (Cr, Fe, Pt)
Pegmatites late staged crystallization forms pegmatites
and many residual elements are concentrated (Li, Ce, Be,
Sn, and U)
Magmatic fluid - directly associated with magma
Porphyries - Hot water heated by pluton
Skarn hot water associated with contact metamorphisms
Exhalatives hot water flowing to surface
Epigenetic hot water not directly associated with pluton
Ore deposit environments
Placer weathering of primary minerals and transport
by streams (Gold, diamonds, other)
Banded Iron Formations 90%+ of worlds iron tied
up in these
Evaporite deposits minerals like gypsum, halite
deposited this way
Laterites leaching of rock leaves residual materials
behind (Al, Ni, Fe)
Supergene reworking of primary ore deposits
remobilizes metals (often over short distances)
Geochemical Traps
Similar to chemical sedimentary rocks must leach
material into fluid, transport and deposit ions as
pH, redox, T changes and mixing of different fluids
results in ore mineralization
Cause metals to go from soluble to insoluble
Sulfides (reduced form of S) strongly binds metals
many important metal ore minerals are sulfides!
Oxides Oxidizing environments form
(hydroxy)oxide minerals, very insoluble metal
concentrations (especially Fe, Mn, Al)
Hydrothermal Ore Deposits
Thermal gradients induce convection of
water leaching, redox rxns, and cooling
create economic mineralization
Massive sulfide deposits
Hot, briny, water
leaches metals
from basaltic
ocean rocks
Comes in contact
with cool ocean
Vermont Copperbelt
Besshi-type massive sulfide deposits
Key Units:
Giles Mountain formation More
siliciclastic, including graphitic pelite,
quartoze granofels (metamorphosed
greywacke), hornblende schist,
Standing Pond Volcanics mostly a fine
grained hormblende-plagioclase
amphibolite, likely formed from extrusive
basaltic rocks (local evidence of pillow
structures in St. Johnsbury). Felsic dike
near Springfiled VT yielded a U-Pb age
of 423 4 Ma.
Waits River formation Calcareous
pelite (metamorphosed mudstone),
metalimestone, metadolostone,