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Mineral Evolution: Episodic Metallogenesis, the Supercontinent Cycle, and the Coevolving Geosphere and Biosphere

By
Robert M. Hazen
Robert M. Hazen
Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington,5251 Broad Branch Road NW, Washington, D.C. 20015
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Xiao-Ming Liu
Xiao-Ming Liu
Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington,5251 Broad Branch Road NW, Washington, D.C. 20015
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Robert T. Downs
Robert T. Downs
Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona,1040 East 4th Street, Tucson, Arizona 85721-0077
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Joshua Golden
Joshua Golden
Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona,1040 East 4th Street, Tucson, Arizona 85721-0077
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Alexander J. Pires
Alexander J. Pires
Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona,1040 East 4th Street, Tucson, Arizona 85721-0077
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Edward S. Grew
Edward S. Grew
School of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469
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Grethe Hystad
Grethe Hystad
Department of Mathematics, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721-0077
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Charlene Estrada
Charlene Estrada
Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington,5251 Broad Branch Road NW, Washington, D.C. 20015Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218
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Dimitri A. Sverjensky
Dimitri A. Sverjensky
Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington,5251 Broad Branch Road NW, Washington, D.C. 20015Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218
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Published:
January 01, 2014

Abstract

Analyses of temporal and geographic distributions of the minerals of beryllium, boron, copper, mercury, and molybdenum reveal episodic deposition and diversification. We observe statistically significant increases in the number of reported mineral localities and/or the appearance of new mineral species at ~2800 to 2500, ~1900 to 1700, ~1200 to 1000, ~600 to 500, and ~430 to 250 Ma. These intervals roughly correlate with presumed episodes of supercontinent assembly and associated collisional orogenies of Kenorland (which included Superia), Nuna (a part of Columbia), Rodinia, Pannotia (which included Gondwana), and Pangea, respectively. In constrast, fewer deposits or new mineral species containing these elements have been reported from the intervals at ~2500 to 1900, ~1700 to 1200, 1000 to 600, and 500 to 430 Ma. Metallogenesis is thus relatively sparse during periods of presumed supercontinent stability, breakup, and maximum dispersion.

Variations in the details of these trends, such as comparatively limited Hg metallogenesis during the assumed period of Rodinia assembly; Proterozoic Be and B mineralization associated with extensional environments; Proterozoic Cu, Zn, and U deposits at ~1600 and 830 Ma; and Cenozoic peaks in B, Cu, and Hg mineral diversity, reveal complexities in the relationship between episodes of mineral deposition and diversification on the one hand, and supercontinent assembly and preservational biases on the other. Temporal patterns of metallogenesis also reflect changing near-surface environments, including differing degrees of production and preservation of continental crust; the shallowing geotherm; changing ocean chemistry; and biological influences, especially those associated with atmospheric oxygenation, biomineralization, and the rise of the terrestrial biosphere. A significant unresolved question is the extent to which these peaks in metallogenesis reflect true episodicity, as opposed to preservational bias.

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Special Publications of the Society of Economic Geologists

Building Exploration Capability for the 21st Century

Karen D. Kelley
Karen D. Kelley
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Howard C. Golden
Howard C. Golden
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Society of Economic Geologists
Volume
18
ISBN electronic:
9781629499291
Publication date:
January 01, 2014

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