Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
Non-traditional stable isotopes are tracers of specific geologic and biologic processes and can be used to further advance our understanding of metal cycling within complex hydrothermal (and possibly mesothermal), low-temperature, and ambient temperature systems. A significant absence in current deposit and environmental models is insight from geochemical studies that involve non-traditional stable isotopes. These isotope systems can address critical questions regarding sources, mobility, and fixation of metals. The objective of this project is utilize the Mineral Resources Program's state-of-the art multicollector facility to advance our understanding of ore genesis and the weathering of mineral deposits. Studies focus on questions about sources, mobility, and fixation of metals in both ore deposits and weathering products. Experiments will be conducted to better understand the parameters and biogeochemical transformations for stable metal isotopes involved in ore deposit formation, weathering, and element dispersion. The project is focused on two themes: 1) use of stable isotopes as source indicators, and 2) use of isotopes as process indicators. Mineral Resources Program expertise on mineral deposit types will be utilized to 1) improve understanding of the range of stable isotope compositions, and 2) determine of it is possible to erect a classification of deposit types with regard to nontraditional stable isotopes.
Research has been focused on the following areas: