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Mineral resources: Physical dynamics driving chemical enrichment of rare metals

English title Mineral resources: Physical dynamics driving chemical enrichment of rare metals
Applicant Bachmann Olivier
Number 166151
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Geochemie und Petrologie ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Geology
Start/End 01.04.2016 - 31.07.2020
Approved amount 937'554.00
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All Disciplines (5)

Discipline
Geology
Other disciplines of Earth Sciences
Geochronology
Mineralogy
Geochemistry

Keywords (16)

mineral resources ; geology; geochronology; geochemistry; hydrodynamics; finite-element simulation; hydrothermal; SwissSIMS; fluid inclusions; ICPMS; isotope analysis; laser-ablation; Papua New Guinea; Indonesia; Serbia; Argentina

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Erzlagerstätten liefern essentielle Rohmaterialien für unsere Industrie, einschliesslich strategischer Metalle wie Cu, Zn, In, Mo, Re, U, Ag und Au, deren Bedarf nicht durch Recycling allein gedeckt werden kann. Dieses Projekt untersucht die geologischen Prozesse, die zu lokalen chemischen Anreicherungen dieser Metalle in der Erdkruste führen. Die Resultate helfen, neue Rohstoffvorkommen im Untergrund zu lokalisieren, die mit tragbarem Aufwand (Kosten, Umwelt, Energie) erschlossen werden können.
Lay summary

Lagerstätten wertvoller Metalle bilden sich im Erdinnern durch Auflösung, Transport und Wiederausfällung aus heissem Wasser (sogenannten hydrothermalen Fluiden). Unser Projekt untersucht die physikalischen Prozesse von Energieverteilung und Fluid-Transport, welche der chemischen Anreicherung der Spurenelemente zugrunde liegt. In einer Zusammenarbeit von Doktoranden und Doktorandinnen mit Experten in unserer Gruppe an der ETH Zürich verbinden wir (a) numerische Computersimulationen der Fliessprozesse mit (b) genauen isotopischen Bestimmungen der geologischen Zeitdauer solcher Prozesse in der Natur und (c) der chemischen Analyse mikroskopischer Fluid-Einschlüsse in Mineralien.

In der zweiten Phase dieses Projekts werden vier Doktorarbeiten abgeschlossen, einschliesslich zweier Projekte in welchen wir die Zeitdauer von erzbildenden Prozessen mit Zirkondatierungen auf 10’000 Jahre genau bestimmen. Ein neuer Doktorand erarbeitet ein allgemeingültiges Modell für die Entwicklung hydrothermaler Adern in magmatisch-hydrothermalen Lagestätten, welche weltweit ähnliche Characteristika und Zeitabfolgen aufzeigen und deren Interpretation von praktischer Bedeutung für die Rohstoffsuche ist. Eine zweite neue Doktorandin untersucht die wohl historisch reichsten Kupfer-Erze Europas in Bor (Serbien), wo massive Kupfersulfide umstrittenen Ursprungs auftreten. Wir wollen die erneute Debatte klären, ob diese Vorkommen tatsächlich hydrothermalen Ursprungs sind, oder aber durch heisse magmatische Gase als Sulfidschmelzen in vulkanischen Fumarolen gebildet wurden. Ein teilweise vom SNF finanzierter PostDoc entwickelt gleichzeitig ein numerisches Modell, um die unterschiedlichen Prozess-Möglichkeiten auf Grund von physikalischen Gesetzen von Masse- und Wärmetransport theoretisch zu simulieren.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 24.07.2018

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Ore deposits are our primary source of industrial raw materials, including strategic metals such as Cu, Zn, In, Mo, Re, U, Ag, and Au. This project is aimed at understanding the geological processes that lead to localised chemical enrichment of these metals in the Earth’s crust. A physical understanding is essential to predict the sub-surface locations where we can find new high-grade resources, which can be developed with minimal environmental impact as existing mines will become depleted.
Lay summary

Rare metals are enriched in the Earths crust by dissolution, transport and re-precipitation of elements by hot water (hydrothermal fluid), thereby forming ore deposits from which we obtain essential raw materials such as copper and gold. This collaborative project aims at quantifying the physical processes driving ore metal enrichment in magmatic-hydrothermal environments, combining three complementary approaches: (a) numerical modelling of hydrothermal fluid flow and heat transport (b) high-precision isotope geochronology of young magmatic-hydrothermal systems, and (c) tracing the composition of evolving fluids by microanalysis of fluid inclusions. 

In the second phase of this project, four graduate students will complete their PhD theses, including the completion of high-precision geological time measurements. Two new PhD projects will be started, one of which will derive a general process-based model for the evolution of veins in porphyry-type ore deposits, which globally show similar characteristics and time relations. The second PhD student will investigate the historically richest copper deposit of Europe in Bor (Serbia), to understand the specific fluid evolution that leads to massive copper sulfide veins. She will resolve the recently emerging debate that these high-sulfidation deposits might not be epithermal in origin, but the product of high-temperature volcanic fumaroles in which molten sulfides were flowing in open fissures. A partly-funded postdoctoral scientist will develop a numerical model to simulate these alternative processes, taking into account the basic physical constraints on material transport in magmatic-hydrothermal ore systems.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 24.07.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Project partner

Publications

Publication
Hematite Breccia-Hosted Iron Oxide Copper-Gold Deposits Require Magmatic Fluid Components Exposed to Atmospheric Oxidation: Evidence from Prominent Hill, Gawler Craton, South Australia
Schlegel Tobias U., Wagner Thomas, Wälle Markus, Heinrich Christoph A. (2018), Hematite Breccia-Hosted Iron Oxide Copper-Gold Deposits Require Magmatic Fluid Components Exposed to Atmospheric Oxidation: Evidence from Prominent Hill, Gawler Craton, South Australia, in Economic Geology, 113(3), 597-644.
Fluid Inclusion Analysis of other Host Minerals besides Quartz: Application to Granite-Related Quartz-Topaz Veins and Garnet Skarns in Porphyry Copper-Gold Ore Systems
Schlöglova Katerina (2018), Fluid Inclusion Analysis of other Host Minerals besides Quartz: Application to Granite-Related Quartz-Topaz Veins and Garnet Skarns in Porphyry Copper-Gold Ore Systems, ETH, Zurich.
Multiple stable isotope fronts during non-isothermal fluid flow
Fekete Szandra, Weis Philipp, Scott Samuel, Driesner Thomas (2018), Multiple stable isotope fronts during non-isothermal fluid flow, in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 223, 537-557.
Magma Evolution Leading to Porphyry Au-Cu Mineralization at the Ok Tedi Deposit, Papua New Guinea: Trace Element Geochemistry and High-Precision Geochronology of Igneous Zircon
Large Simon J.E., Quadt Albrecht von, Wotzlaw Jörn-Frederik, Guillong Marcel, Heinrich Christoph A. (2018), Magma Evolution Leading to Porphyry Au-Cu Mineralization at the Ok Tedi Deposit, Papua New Guinea: Trace Element Geochemistry and High-Precision Geochronology of Igneous Zircon, in Economic Geology, 113(1), 39-61.
The Magmatic to Hydrothermal Evolution of Porphyry Cu-Au Deposits - A Zircon Perspective
Large Simon J.E. (2018), The Magmatic to Hydrothermal Evolution of Porphyry Cu-Au Deposits - A Zircon Perspective, ETH, Zurich.
Improved accuracy of LA-ICP-MS U-Pb ages of Cenozoic zircons by alpha dose correction
Sliwinski J.T., Guillong M., Liebske C., Dunkl I., von Quadt A., Bachmann O. (2017), Improved accuracy of LA-ICP-MS U-Pb ages of Cenozoic zircons by alpha dose correction, in Chemical Geology, 472, 8-21.
A magmatic source of hydrothermal sulfur for the Prominent Hill deposit and associated prospects in the Olympic iron oxide copper-gold (IOCG) province of South Australia
Schlegel Tobias U., Wagner Thomas, Boyce Adrian, Heinrich Christoph A. (2017), A magmatic source of hydrothermal sulfur for the Prominent Hill deposit and associated prospects in the Olympic iron oxide copper-gold (IOCG) province of South Australia, in Ore Geology Reviews, 89, 1058-1090.
Copper, gold and bismuth behavior in magmatic-hydrothermal systems: fluid-inclusion LA-ICP-MS study
Schlöglova Katerina, Wälle Markus, Heinrich Christoph A., DolejsDavid (2017), Copper, gold and bismuth behavior in magmatic-hydrothermal systems: fluid-inclusion LA-ICP-MS study, in Proceedings of the 14th Biennial SGA Meeting, Quebéc, Canada, Quebéc, CanadaSociety for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA), Geneva, Switzerland.
Fluid Evolution of the Monte Mattoni Mafic Complex, Adamello Batholith, Northern Italy: Insights from Fluid Inclusion Analysis and Thermodynamic Modeling
Hennings Sibylle K, Wagner Thomas, Ulmer Peter, Heinrich Christoph A (2017), Fluid Evolution of the Monte Mattoni Mafic Complex, Adamello Batholith, Northern Italy: Insights from Fluid Inclusion Analysis and Thermodynamic Modeling, in Journal of Petrology, 58(8), 1645-1670.
Why are IOCG deposits iron-oxide-rich? Insights from the Prominent Hill hematite breccia deposit, Gawler Craton
SchlegelTobias U., HeinrichChristoph A., WagnerThomas, BoyceAdrian (2017), Why are IOCG deposits iron-oxide-rich? Insights from the Prominent Hill hematite breccia deposit, Gawler Craton, in Proceedings of the 14th SGA Biennial Meeting, Quebéc, CanadaSociety for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA), Geneva, Switzerland.
Fluid-rock interaction is decisive for the formation of tungsten deposits
Lecumberri-Sanchez Pilar, Vieira R., Heinrich C.A., Pinto F., Wӓlle M. (2017), Fluid-rock interaction is decisive for the formation of tungsten deposits, in Geology, 45(7), 579-582.
Zircon petrochronological evidence for a plutonic-volcanic connection in porphyry copper deposits
Buret Yannick, Wotzlaw Jörn-Frederik, Roozen Stan, Guillong Marcel, von Quadt Albrecht, Heinrich Christoph A. (2017), Zircon petrochronological evidence for a plutonic-volcanic connection in porphyry copper deposits, in Geology, 45(7), 623-626.
Magmatic and tectonic history of Jurassic ophiolites and associated granitoids from the South Apuseni Mountains (Romania)
Gallhofer Daniela, von Quadt Albrecht, Schmid Stefan M., Guillong Marcel, Peytcheva Irena, Seghedi Ioan (2017), Magmatic and tectonic history of Jurassic ophiolites and associated granitoids from the South Apuseni Mountains (Romania), in Swiss Journal of Geosciences, 110(2), 699-719.
Copper partitioning between silicate melts and amphibole: Experimental insight into magma evolution leading to porphyry copper ore formation
Hsu Ying-Jui, Zajacz Zoltán, Ulmer Peter, Heinrich Christoph A. (2017), Copper partitioning between silicate melts and amphibole: Experimental insight into magma evolution leading to porphyry copper ore formation, in Chemical Geology, 448, 151-163.
LA-ICP-MS analysis of fluid inclusions: contamination effects challenging micro-analysis of elements close to their detection limit
Schlöglova Katerina, Wälle Markus, Heinrich Christoph A. (2017), LA-ICP-MS analysis of fluid inclusions: contamination effects challenging micro-analysis of elements close to their detection limit, in Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 32(5), 1052-1063.
The Physical and Chemical Interplay between Magmatic and Meteoric Fluids in Hydrothermal Systems: In-Situ Oxygen Isotope Measurements and Numerical Simulations
FeketeSzandra (2017), The Physical and Chemical Interplay between Magmatic and Meteoric Fluids in Hydrothermal Systems: In-Situ Oxygen Isotope Measurements and Numerical Simulations, ETH, Zurich.
Timing and Duration of Mineralisation at the Bajo de la Alumbrera Porphyry Copper Deposit and the Petrogenetic Link to Explosive Volcanism
Buret Yannick (2017), Timing and Duration of Mineralisation at the Bajo de la Alumbrera Porphyry Copper Deposit and the Petrogenetic Link to Explosive Volcanism, ETH, Zurich.
Chemical evolution of metamorphic fluids in the Central Alps, Switzerland: insight from LA-ICPMS analysis of fluid inclusions
Rauchenstein-Martinek K., Wagner T., Wälle M., Heinrich C. A., Arlt T. (2016), Chemical evolution of metamorphic fluids in the Central Alps, Switzerland: insight from LA-ICPMS analysis of fluid inclusions, in Geofluids, 16(5), 877-908.
The optimal windows for seismically-enhanced gold precipitation in the epithermal environment
Sanchez-Alfaro Pablo, Reich Martin, Driesner Thomas, Cembrano José, Arancibia Gloria, Pérez-Flores Pamela, Heinrich Christoph A., Rowland Julie, Tardani Daniele, Lange Dietrich, Campos Eduardo (2016), The optimal windows for seismically-enhanced gold precipitation in the epithermal environment, in Ore Geology Reviews, 79, 463-473.
Trace elements in fluid inclusions of sediment-hosted gold deposits indicate a magmatic-hydrothermal origin of the Carlin ore trend
Large Simon J.E., Bakker Edine Y.N., Weis Philipp, Wälle Markus, Ressel Mike, Heinrich Christoph A. (2016), Trace elements in fluid inclusions of sediment-hosted gold deposits indicate a magmatic-hydrothermal origin of the Carlin ore trend, in Geology, 44(12), 1015-1018.
Microanalysis of Fluid Inclusions in Crustal Hydrothermal Systems using Laser Ablation Methods
Wagner Thomas, Fusswinkel Tobias, Wälle Markus, Heinrich Christoph A. (2016), Microanalysis of Fluid Inclusions in Crustal Hydrothermal Systems using Laser Ablation Methods, in Elements, 12(5), 323-328.
Contrasting hydrological processes of meteoric water incursion during magmatic–hydrothermal ore deposition: An oxygen isotope study by ion microprobe
Fekete Szandra, Weis Philipp, Driesner Thomas, Bouvier Anne-Sophie, Baumgartner Lukas, Heinrich Christoph A. (2016), Contrasting hydrological processes of meteoric water incursion during magmatic–hydrothermal ore deposition: An oxygen isotope study by ion microprobe, in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 451, 263-271.
Fluid evolution in a volcanic-hosted epithermal carbonate–base metal–gold vein system: Alto de la Blenda, Farallón Negro, Argentina
Márquez-Zavalía M. Florencia, Heinrich Christoph A. (2016), Fluid evolution in a volcanic-hosted epithermal carbonate–base metal–gold vein system: Alto de la Blenda, Farallón Negro, Argentina, in Mineralium Deposita, 51(7), 873-902.
From a long-lived upper-crustal magma chamber to rapid porphyry copper emplacement: Reading the geochemistry of zircon crystals at Bajo de la Alumbrera (NW Argentina)
Buret Yannick, von Quadt Albrecht, Heinrich Christoph, Selby David, Wälle Markus, Peytcheva Irena (2016), From a long-lived upper-crustal magma chamber to rapid porphyry copper emplacement: Reading the geochemistry of zircon crystals at Bajo de la Alumbrera (NW Argentina), in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 450, 120-131.
Ore mineralogy of the Serra Pelada Au-Pd-Pt deposit, Carajás, Brazil and implications for ore-forming processes
Berni Gabriel V., Heinrich Christoph A., Lobato Lydia M., Wall Vic (2016), Ore mineralogy of the Serra Pelada Au-Pd-Pt deposit, Carajás, Brazil and implications for ore-forming processes, in Mineralium Deposita, 51(6), 781-795.
Application of low-temperature microthermometric data for interpreting multicomponent fluid inclusion compositions
Steele-MacInnis Matthew, Ridley John, Lecumberri-Sanchez Pilar, Schlegel Tobias U., Heinrich Christoph A. (2016), Application of low-temperature microthermometric data for interpreting multicomponent fluid inclusion compositions, in Earth-Science Reviews, 159, 14-35.
Internally consistent thermodynamic data for aqueous species in the system Na–K–Al–Si–O–H–Cl
Miron George D., Wagner Thomas, Kulik Dmitrii A., Heinrich Christoph A. (2016), Internally consistent thermodynamic data for aqueous species in the system Na–K–Al–Si–O–H–Cl, in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 187, 41-78.
Sulfide Replacement Processes Revealed by Textural and LA-ICP-MS Trace Element Analyses: Example from the Early Mineralization Stages at Cerro de Pasco, Peru
Rottier B., Kouzmanov K., Wälle M., Bendezú R., Fontboté L. (2016), Sulfide Replacement Processes Revealed by Textural and LA-ICP-MS Trace Element Analyses: Example from the Early Mineralization Stages at Cerro de Pasco, Peru, in Economic Geology, 111(6), 1347-1367.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
PD Dr. Thomas Driesner (same group at ETH Zürich) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. D. Günther (Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, ETH Zürich) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
RTB Bor Group Serbien (Europe)
- Publication
Profs. D. Vance and M. Schönbächler (same institute at ETH Zürich) Switzerland (Europe)
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Irena Peytcheva (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences) Bulgaria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. S. Matthäi (University of Leoben) Austria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Mr. K. Schroeder (senior mine geologist, Kennecott - Rio Tinto) United States of America (North America)
- Publication
Dr. Markus Wälle (same group at ETH Zürich) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. A.-S. Bouvier (University of Lausanne) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Daniel Hastings (chief geologist, Ok Tedi Mining Ltd) PapuaNew Guinea (Oceania)
- Publication
Dr. Albrecht von Quadt (same group at ETH Zürich) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. F. Márquez-Zavalía (CONICET, Mendoza) & J. Bruna-Novillo (Minera Alumbrera) Argentina (South America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. V. Cvetkovic (Centre of Isotope Research, Belgrade) Serbien (Europe)
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Prof. O. Bachmann (same institute at ETH Zürich) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
146651 Mineral resources: Physical dynamics driving chemical enrichment of rare metals 01.04.2013 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

This project brings a long-term research effort by ETH Zurich’s Fluids and Mineral Deposits Group into magmatic-hydrothermal ore formation to a preliminary conclusion. Earlier PhD projects have developed and applied novel micro-analytical techniques for fluid inclusions and geochronology, coupled with the design of original computer software for simulating chemical reactions and fluid flow leading to metal enrichment in the earths crust. This project concentrates on the physical processes underlying the chemical enrichment of metals, by applying our analytical and computational tools to clarify some of the big remaining questions in magmatic-hydrothermal ore formation. I propose to investigate three inter-related Subprojects:Subproject A. Dynamics of magmatic-meteoric fluid interaction in high-grade ore formation. We combine stable-isotope tracing using the SwissSIMS ion probe with our finite-element simulation platform CSMP++, to investigate the dynamic processes occurring when saline magmatic fluids ascend from an upper-crustal magma chamber, split into brine + vapour ± halite, and then interact with convecting fluids derived from the earth’s surface. This hydrological interface establishes sharp gradients in pressure, temperature and fluid composition, which provide the driving force for high-grade metal accumulation in porphyry copper ore shells. A current PhD student will complete her lab studies of d18O variations in quartz samples with an implementation of isotope exchange into CSMP++. Partial funding for a new postdoctoral researcher is requested to investigate the physics of fluid mixing in fractured rocks, using first-order implementations of fluid and rock mechanics that we developed for geothermal research. A new PhD project plans to use observational data for the sequence of veining in porphyry copper - gold deposits to answer the question why the precipitation of quartz veins and the deposition of ore minerals are commonly separated in time and space. Subproject B. Measuring the time scales of magmatism and hydrothermal fluid flow. Two PhD students will complete their current projects combining high-precision geochronology of young (1.5 - 6 Ma) porphyry copper - molybdenum - gold systems, to quantify the extended lifetimes of magmatism recorded by zircon populations, and use these data to test the very short duration of magmatic-hydrothermal ore formation predicted by our numerical modelling. Combination with trace-element zoning in the zircons and with detailed studies of other magmatic phenocrysts yields new insight into the evolution of complex hydrous magma systems, with a focus on the questions of timing, duration and physical mechanisms of fluid separation, the relation between extrusive volcanism and subvolcanic magma chambers, and the process of focussing fluids from a large partly crystallised magma chamber into a constrained fracture network in a composite porphyry stock. Results from the completion of these two PhD projects over the next two years provide essential magmatic constraints for understanding the observations and the results from modelling fluid - rock mechanics in Subproject A. Subproject C. Hydrothermal transport, partitioning and precipitation of ore metals.One of my overall ambitions for this project is to derive a first-order generic model explaining the salient differences of porphyry-type, skarn-hosted, epithermal and iron-oxide-hosted Cu-Au ore deposits in terms of their physical and chemical fluid evolution. This requires critical case-studies of carefully chosen and well-exposed deposits and their magmatic and tectonic context, in combination with recent experimental data published by other groups. Completion of a combined fluid-inclusion and sulphur-isotope study of Prominent Hill confirmed volcanic degassing to an oxidised atmosphere as a key factor in iron-oxide hosted Cu-Au ore formation, contrasting with the confined sub-volcanic fluid evolution of porphyry Cu-Au deposits. An ongoing PhD student will complete a critical investigation of post-entrapment modification of fluid inclusions. She will then use her results from minerals other than quartz for a fluid inclusion study relating skarn-hosted ores to the previously studied Bingham Canyon porphyry Cu-Mo-Au deposit. A second PhD project will undertake a fresh study of high-sulphidation epithermal ore formation, in light of the recent debate regarding the relation of such ore systems to high-temperature volcanic fumaroles. The focus of this project is on the world-class Bor deposit in Serbia where underground mines and deep drilling expose the transition from porphyry-style mineralisation to a fumarole degassing to the palaeo-surface.
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