Economic natural resource deposits at terrestrial impact structures
Richard A. F. Grieve, 2005. "Economic natural resource deposits at terrestrial impact structures", Mineral Deposits and Earth Evolution, I. McDonald, A. J. Boyce, I. B. Butler, R. J. Herrington, D. A. Polya
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Economic deposits associated with terrestrial impact structures range from world-class to relatively localized occurrences. The more significant deposits are introduced under the classification: progenetic, syngenetic or epigenetic, with respect to the impact event. However, there is increasing evidence that post-impact hydrothermal systems at large impact structures have remobilized some progenetic deposits, such as some of the Witwatersrand gold deposits at the Vredefort impact structure. Impact-related hydrothermal activity may also have had a significant role in the formation of ores at such syngenetic ‘magmatic’ deposits as the Cu-Ni-platinum-group elements ores associated with the Sudbury impact structure. Although Vredefort and Sudbury contain world-class mineral deposits, in economic terms hydrocarbon production dominates natural resource deposits found at impact structures. The total value of impact-related resources in North America is estimated at US$18 billion per year. Many impact structures remain to be discovered and, as targets for resource exploration, their relatively invariant, but scale-dependent properties, may provide an aid to exploration strategies.
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Mineral Deposits and Earth Evolution
Mineral deposits are not only primary sources of wealth generation, but also act as windows through which to view the evolution and interrelationships of the Earth system.
Deposits formed throughout the last 3.8 billion years of the Earth’s history preserve key evidence with which to test fundamental questions about the evolution of the Earth. These include: the nature of early magmatic and tectonic processes, supercontinent reconstructions, the state of the atmosphere and hydrosphere with time, and the emergence and development of life. The interlinking processes that form mineral deposits have always sat at the heart of the Earth system and the potential for using deposits as tools to understand that evolving system over geological time is increasingly recognized. This volume contains research aimed both at understanding the origins of mineral deposits and at using mineral deposits as tools to explore different long-term Earth processes.