Ore deposits


Scientific background: Modern societies are of utter need for raw materials. The demand will drastically increase in future due to major shifts in the energy and transport systems and digitization. The European Commission (2017) listed 27 critical raw materials (e.g. Sb, Co, HFSE and REE) essential for the industry sectors leading the societal shifts. We use the analytical data from the investigation of ore deposits to gain a holistic overview of the elemental flux in the lithosphere and to better constrain ore deposit formation. This information is a prerequisite for improving exploration techniques. Our focus, thereby, is on orogenic gold deposits, volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits, Mississippi Valley type (MVT) deposits and HFSE deposits associated with carbonatite and alkaline rocks.

Our analytical strength and challenges

  • Ore petrography and petrology using transmitted light microscopy
  • Determination of bulk and spatially resolved geochemistry of ores
  • Improvement of sample preparation and measurement procedures, e.g. to determine trace concentrations of gold (ppt), which is necessary to better understand the formation of orogenic gold deposits
  • Major and trace element concentration in fluid inclusions
  • Analysis of rare earth element concentrations in various matrices over a broad range of concentrations
  • Trace element determination of sulfides and oxides (LA-SF-ICP-MS – coming up)
  • Age dating (LA-SF-ICP-MS – coming up)

Analytical possibilities

Current research topics and projects

  • Genesis of typical and atypical orogenic gold deposits (Finland)
  • Source of Au in Paleoproterozoic and Archean terranes: what is the role of metabasalts? (Finland, Canada)
  • ASK project: The actively forming seafloor sulfide mineralization in the Kolumbo volcano (ASK): source of metals in an arc-related magmatic-hydrothermal system (Kolumbo, Greece)
  • MOMO project: Mobilization of metals in Oceanic core complex (MOMO): source to sink investigation of gabbroic-ultramafic hosted VMS deposits (Indian ridge, Cyprus, Albania)
  • MauS project: Mobility of Au in Subduction systems (Cyclades, Greece)
  • The role of early cumulate formation for HFSE enrichment in foidolitic systems (Greenland, Russia)
  • Significance of crustal contamination on HFSE mineralization in carbonatites (Namibia, South Africa)
  • Processes leading to agpaitic mineralogy in peralkaline complexes (Malawi)
  • The mineralogical control of geophysical exploration signatures (worldwide)

Selected publications

  • Banks, G.J., Walter, B.F., Marks, M.A.W. & Siegfried, P.R. (2019): A Workflow to Define, Map and Name A Carbonatite-or Alkaline Igneous-Associated REE-HFSE Mineral System: A Case Study from SW Germany. Minerals 9(2), 97.
  • Walter, B.F., Kortenbruck, P., Scharrer, M., Zeitvogel, C. Wälle, M., Mertz-Kraus, R. and Markl, G. (2019): Chemical evolution of ore-forming brines - Basement leaching, metal provenance, and the redox link between barren and ore-bearing hydrothermal veins. A case study from the Schwarzwald mining district in SW-Germany. Chemical Geology 506, 126-148.
  • Walter B.F., Parsapoor A., Braunger S., Marks M.A.W., Wenzel T., Martin M., Markl G. (2018): Pyrochlore as a monitor for magmatic and hydrothermal processes in carbonatites from the Kaiserstuhl volcanic complex (SW Germany). Chemical Geology 498, 1-16.
  • Patten CGC, Markdahl K, Pitcairn IK, Zack T, Lahaye Y, Teagle DAH (2019) Metal fluxes during magmatic degassing in the oceanic crust: sulphide mineralisation at ODP site 786B, Izu Bonin forearc. Mineralium Depositae
  • Patten C.G.C., Pitcairn I.K. and Teagle D. (2017). Hydrothermal mobilisation of Au and other metals in supra-subduction oceanic crust: insight from the Troodos ophiolite. Ore Geology Reviews 86, 487-508
  • Patten C.G.C., Pitcairn I.K., Teagle D., Harris M. (2016) Sulphide mineral paragenesis and metal mobility at IODP site 1256D: implications for the generation of metal-rich fluids in the oceanic crust. Geochimica and Cosmochimica Acta, v. 193, 132-159.
  • Patten C.G.C., Pitcairn I.K., Teagle D., Harris M. (2016) Mobility of Au and related elements during the hydrothermal alteration of the oceanic crust: implications for the sources of metals in VMS deposits. Mineralium Deposita, v. 51, p. 179–200