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Economic Geology: Introduction and scope

Economic geology is concerned with earth materials can be used for economic and/or industrial purposes.


These materials include precious and base metals, nonmetallic minerals, construction-grade stone, petroleum, coal and water. The term commonly refers to metallic mineral and mineral resources. deposits

The techniques employed by other earth science disciplines (such as geochemistry, mineralogy, geophysics, and structural geology) might all be used to understand, describe, and exploit an ore deposit.

Economic geology geologists.






However, it is of prime interest to investors, stock analysts and other professions such as engineers, environmental scientists, and conservationists because of the far- reaching impact that extractive industries have on society, the economy, and the environment.

Ore: An ore is defined as a mineral or an aggregate of minerals from which a valuable constituent, especially a metal, can be profitably mined or extracted.
It is an aggregate of economically important minerals that is sufficiently rich to separate for a profit. Although more than 3,500 mineral species are only about 100 are considered ore minerals. known,

The term originally applied only to metallic minerals (see native element) but now includes such nonmetallic substances as sulfur, calcium fluoride (fluorite), and barium sulfate (barite) etc. -

It is a mineral occurring in sufficient quantity and containing enough metal to permit its recovery and extraction at a profit. The term is also applied to rock containing such a mineral or metal, as gold ore and copper ore.

Gangue :
Ore is always mixed with unwanted rocks and minerals, known collectively as gangue. The ore and the gangue are mined together and then separated. The desired element is then extracted from the ore. The metal may be still further refined (purified) or alloyed with other metals.

(Cupper Ore)

(Iron Ore)

(Lead Ore)

(Gold Ore)

Important ore minerals Acanthite: Ag2S for production of silver Barite: BaSO4 Bauxite Al2O3 for production of aluminium Beryl: Be3Al2(SiO3)6 for production of Berillium Bornite: Cu5FeS4 for production of Copper Cassiterite: SnO2 for production of tin

Chalcocite: Cu2S for production of copper

Chalcopyrite: CuFeS2 for production of Copper Chromite: (Fe, Mg)Cr2O4 for production of chromium Cinnabar: HgS for production of mercury Cobaltite: (Co,Fe)AsS for coblt Columbite-Tantalite or Coltan : (Fe, Mn)(Nb, Ta)2O6 Galena: PbS for lead

Gold: Au, typically associated with quartz or as placer deposits Hematite: Fe2O3 : for Iron Ilmenite: FeTiO3 : For Titanium Magnetite: Fe3O4 : For iron Molybdenite: MoS2 : For Mo Pentlandite:(Fe, Ni)9S8 : For Nickel Pyrolusite:MnO2 : For Manganese Scheelite: CaWO4 : For tungsten Sphalerite: ZnS : For Zinc Uraninite (pitchblende): UO2 for production of metallic uranium

Wolframite: (Fe, Mn)WO4 : For tungsten

Processes of ore formation:

The various theories of ore genesis explain how the various types of mineral deposits form within the Earth's crust. Ore genesis theories are very dependent on the mineral or commodity. Ore genesis theories generally involve three components: (i)source (ii) transport or conduit (iii) trap (i) Source is required because metal must come from somewhere, and be liberated by some process

(ii)Transport is required first to move the metal bearing fluids or solid minerals into the right position, and refers to the act of physically moving the metal, as well as chemical or physical phenomenon which encourage movement
(iii) Trapping is required to concentrate the metal via some physical, chemical or geological mechanism into a concentration which forms minable ore

The biggest deposits are formed when the source is large, the transport mechanism is efficient, and the trap is active and ready at the right time.
Mineral deposits of economic importance may be a variety of ways. formed in

Their formation is very complex and most often takes place in a combination of more than one processes.

Mineral deposits form - From magma by crystallisation or seggregation or - Metamoprhism and alteration of preexisting rocks and minerals or - By sedimentary processes.

Processes Magmatic concentration

Resulting deposits Magmatic deposits

Varieties/examples Diamond, chromite Wollastonite

Contact metasomatism Hydrothermal action

Contact-metasomatic deposits (a) Filling of cavities (b) Replacement of rock masses


(a) Sedimentary beds

(b) Evaporities (c) coal, petroleum

Iron, Manganese
Salt, gypsum Bauxite Monazite, REE Cupper, Lead, Zinc graphite


(a) Residual concentration (b) Placers (c ) Oxidised and supergene deposits

Metamorphism Hydrology

Metamorphic deposits Ground water supplies

Classification of mineral deposits

(based on genetic significance)

Primary deposits Secondary deposits

-Form from magma or mineral rich solutions under influence of temp & pressure. Examples: Gold, chromite, magnetite, Nickel, copper, lead, zinc etc.

-Formed from either sedimentary processes or by weathering, transportation and metamorphism of pre-existing minerals. Examples: Gypsum, limestone, bauxite, Manganese,iron, kyanite etc.

Based on time of formation w.r.t. host rocks: Syngenetic mineral deposits Epigenetic mineral deposits -form in the same period as -Formed later than host rocks host rocks -eg. vein/hydrothermal deposits eg. Chromite, coal, Iron etc. Cu,Pb, Zn, Au

Magmatic deposits: -are ore bodies which ahs intimate association with igneous rocks. -In this there are different stages of ore formation: (i) Early magmatic : (a) Disseminated crystallisation without concentration eg. Diamond in Kimberlite pipes. (b) Crystallisation segregation : eg. Chromite , platinum deposits (ii) Late magmatic : (a) Residual, liquid accumulation and/or injection eg. Titano-magnetite, chromium, platinum (b) Liquid separation and accumulation: eg. Ni-Cu deposits (c) Pegmatites: eg. Beryl

Ore minerals (eg Chromite Crystals). (Dissemination of ores (segregation of ores eg. Diamond in kimberlite Eg. Chromite or magnetite) pipes) [Schematic diagrams showing the principles behind fractional crystallisation in a magma. While cooling, the magma evolves in composition because different minerals crystallize from the melt. 1: olivine crystallizes; 2: olivine and pyroxene crystallize; 3: pyroxene and plagioclase crystallize; 4: plagioclase crystallizes. At the bottom of the magma reservoir, a cumulate rock forms.]

Fractional crystallization is one of the most important geochemical and physical processes operating within the Earth's crust and mantle. Fractional crystallization is the removal and segregation from a melt of mineral precipitates; except in special cases, removal of the crystals changes the composition of the magma. Fractional crystallization in silicate melts (magmas) is complex compared to crystallization in chemical systems at constant pressure and composition, because changes in pressure and composition can have dramatic effects on magma evolution.

Addition and loss of water, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and oxygen are among the compositional changes that must be considered. For example, the partial pressure (fugacity) of water in silicate melts can be of prime importance, as in nearsolidus crystallization of magmas of granite composition.

The crystallization sequence of oxide minerals such as magnetite and ulvospinel is sensitive to the oxygen fugacity of melts, and separation of the oxide phases can be an important control of silica concentration in the evolving magma, and may be important in andesite genesis.

Discontinuous Series

Continuous Series



Plagioclase (Calcium rich)



Biotite (Black Mica)

Plagioclase (Sodium rich)

Relative Crystallization Temperature


Muscovite (White Mica)