Treasure maps, sustainable development, and the billion-year stability of cratonic lithosphere
Hosted by Valentina Magni
The transition to a low-carbon economy is driving ever-increasing demand for metals. In many cases, forecast requirements over the next three decades are expected to outstrip current discovery rates, necessitating dramatic improvements in exploration success. Large quantities of copper, lead, and zinc have been found in narrow zones across sedimentary basins, but despite over a century of research, the geological mechanisms responsible for their spatial distribution remain enigmatic. In this talk, I will demonstrate a robust link between deposit location and lithospheric thickness – namely that 85% of sediment-hosted base metals, including all giant deposits (>10 megatonnes of metal), occur within 200 km of the transition between thick and thin lithosphere. This discovery provides an unprecedented global framework for identifying fertile regions for targeted mineral exploration, particularly those that are buried under cover. I will finish by outlining why rifting in the cratonic lithosphere provides an ideal setting for the generation of giant sediment-hosted mineral deposits.