ESF-Nachwuchsforschergruppe Mineral Systems Analysis


Mineral Systems Analysis - Innovative approaches to exploration targeting in the Erzgebirge Metallogenic Province, Germany

Straddling the border between the Free State of Saxony (Germany) and the Czech Republic the Erzgebirge / Krušné Hory has long been recognized as a world-class metallogenic province. It hosts a wide variety of different types of syn- and post-Variscan hydrothermal ore deposits, including greisen-, skarn- and vein-type mineralization. These deposits were extensively mined for Sn, U, Ag, Zn, Pb, Co, CaF2 and BaSO4 from the 12th to the end of the 20th century.

When the mines ceased their production in the mid to late 20th century it was dominantly for political and/or economic reasons, with significant resource and exploration potential evidently remaining. Efforts by junior companies in recent years to explore this potential have, however, been stifled by the lack of modern metallogenic concepts for the district. As a result, current efforts have focused on exploration targets already well recognized in the 20th century.

Within this project we aim to generate a holistic understanding of ore-forming processes in the context of regional geodynamic evolution – an effort commonly referred to as Mineral Systems Analysis (Occhipinti et al., 2016; McCuaig et al., 2010). This systemic approach will inform future exploration efforts in the Erzgebirge / Krušné Hory metallogenic province. Our main goals are to understand: (1) the nature and the source of hydrothermal fluids related to different deposit types, (2) the specific physico-chemical mechanisms of ore formation, (3) the spatial and temporal evolution of the hydrothermal systems, and (4) the controlling factors for chemical zoning of different mineralization styles.

Based on these findings our ultimate goal is to develop innovative exploration vectors that can be used for exploration targeting in the region.

The project is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Federal State of Saxony. The project is based at the Department of Mineralogy of the TU Bergakademie Freiberg; the Helmholtz-Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology is an active partner.