The concept that some form of fluid phase has moved through rocks to create minerals and veins is one that predates modern Earth science and modern definitions of “phase” and “fluid”. For example, in the 16th century, Georgius Agricola (published in English translation as Agricola, 1912) described “succi” (juices) that lead to the formation of “succi concreti” (solidified juice) – today we know these as veins. Agricola further observed that iron-rust (iron oxides and hydroxides) is formed “when pyrite is softened by moisture”, recognising that iron oxides are produced during the weathering of iron sulphides. Over the past...

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