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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Ore Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry (EASC10094)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryAn introduction to metalliferous ore deposits, including the use of reflected light microscopy for identifying ore minerals. Mineral deposits formed in a wide variety of geological environments are introduced, emphasising their relationship to petrological processes and geological settings. The importance of rock associations will be emphasised. There are 10, 4-hour sessions, consisting usually of 1-hour lecture, break and 3-hours' practical. Practical sessions will be concerned with the examination and interpretation of materials discussed in the corresponding lectures.
Course description Syllabus (IB Ian Butler; SH Steven Hollis)

Week 1 (Lec: IB; Lab: IB)

Optical Properties of Opaque Minerals: Reflected Light Microscopy

L1 Reflected light microscopy. Preparation of polished specimens; the reflected light microscope - its components and use; optical properties in reflected plane-polarised light (reflectance and bi-reflectance; reflection pleochroism); optical properties in reflected light with crossed polars (anisotropy and polarisation colours); hardness (polishing, scratch, quantitative indentation).

P1 Using the reflected light microscope. Practical identification of type examples of common ore-forming minerals and their textures in reflected light.

Week 2 (Lec: IB; Lab: IB)

The Life Cycle of an Ore Deposit

L2 An overview of how ore deposits are found, valued, mined and restored. Introduction to modern exploration methods for ore deposits. Evaluation of ore deposits, including understanding resources and reserves. Extraction and mining methods, including environmental impacts and reclamation of former mine sites. Mineral processing from ore to concentrate.

P2 Using the reflected light microscope. Continued development of skills with the reflected light microscope including emphasis on textural relationships of ore minerals.

Syllabus continued (IB- Ian Butler; SH Steven Hollis)

Week 3 (Lec: IB; Lab: IB)

Chromite and Platinum Group Element Mineralisation associated with Ultrabasic rocks

L3 Orthomagmatic mineral deposits 1: Cr and PGE (Pt-group elements). Uses of Cr and PGE, the Bushveld Complex and the Rhum Layered intrusion. Understanding Cr deposit formation through the application of phase diagrams. Understanding PGE enrichment via sulphide immiscibiity and melt partitioning. Field and geochemical evidence to support theoretical models.

P3 Orthomagmatic mineral deposits in reflected light and hand-specimen. Examples from the Bushveld Complex of South Africa, the Rhum Layered Intrusion in Scotland, Ballantrae in Scotland, and the Kemi deposit of Finland.

Week 4 (Lec: IB; Lab: IB)

Magmatic ore deposits 2

L3 Orthomagmatic mineral deposits 1: Ni-sulphide deposits and PGE (Pt-group elements). Fe-Ni-Cu-S system and sulphur immiscibility in ultramafic and mafic magmas; formation and occurrence of Ni-sulphide in intrusive (Norilsktype) and extrusive (komatiite-hosted) environments.

P4 Orthomagmatic mineral deposits in reflected light and hand-specimen. Examples from the Sudbury deposit in Canada, the Kambalda deposit of Australia and immiscibility textures from Whitehaven Steelworks.

Week 5 (Lec: SH, Lab: SH & IB)

Massive sulphide deposits

L5 Exhalative marine volcanogenic sulphides and deposits associated with sedimentary basins. Present-day submarine volcanism and hydrothermal activity on mid-ocean ridges and in island arcs. Volcanic massive sulfides (VMS) and sedimentary exhalative (SEDEX) and Mississippi-valley type (MVT) classes are introduced, and illustrated with mineral and rock suites from (e.g.) Cyprus, Norwegian Caledonides, Canada, Australia, and Aberfeldy (Scotland).

P5 Hand specimen and reflected light work on massive sulphides. Examples from the East Pacific Rise, Troodos

Ophiolite (Cyprus), Sullivan and Geco (Canada), Rammelsberg (Germany), Mt Isa (Australia) and Sulitjelma (Norway)

Week 6. (Lec: SH, Lab: SH & IB)

Sedex Deposits case study of the Irish ore deposits

L6. Often there are heated debates about how ore deposits form. Using the Irish base-metal orefield, comfortably Europe's largest Zn producer, this lecture will use these deposits to show how we can critically test genetic models to refine our understanding, and so help future exploration and exploitation.

P6 Introduction to core logging for ore petrologists using 40m of continuous core from Navan, Ireland.

Syllabus continued (IB- Ian Butler; SH Steven Hollis)

Week 7. (Lec: SH, Lab: SH & IB)

The porphyry to epithermal transition

L7 Cu-Mo deposits. Calc-alkaline magmatism at destructive plate margins and the evolution of a porphyry stock; magmatic and meteoric fluids; hydraulic fracturing; breccias; wall-rock alteration; supergene enrichment..

P7 Hand specimen and reflected light work on porphyry deposits. Examples from Tomnadashan (Scotland), Reko Diq (Pakistan) and Silver Bell (USA).

Week 8 (Lec: SH, Lab: SH & IB)

Hydrothermal Vein Mineralisation

L8 Vein deposits: metamorphism and crustal dewatering; orogenic gold deposits (Cononish, Curraghinalt; The Golden Mile).

P8 Hand specimen and reflected light work on hydrothermal deposits Examples from SW England, Coniston, Carrock

Fell and Eskdale (Lake District), Tyndrum (Scotland) and Hishikari (Japan)

Week 9 (Lec: SH, Lab: IB & SH)

Sulphur isotopes: application of sulphur isotopes to ore deposits

L9 An introduction to sulphur isotope geochemistry, and their utility in understanding the genesis of a wide range of major ore deposits, and where they might help exploration programmes. P9 Assessed Practical Test (microscopy and hand specimens)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Igneous, Metamorphic and Ore Processes (EASC10107)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students are expected to have a basic understanding of geological concepts and should have completed at least a general introductory geology course. It is anticipated that students have also completed an introduction igneous and metamorphic petrology course.
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 10, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 58 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment Details

Written Exam: 0%, Course Work: 100 %, Practical Exam: 0%.

The course is assessed through course work only composed of 50% of course project and 50% practical test.

Practical Test (50%): 1.5 hour duration with two parts. Part 1: Reflected light microscopy; this part of the exam tests the recognition of ore minerals through optical properties of minerals. Students are expected to be able to sketch and describe the textural relationships of ore and gangue minerals and provide an interpretation of their probable ore forming environment and processes based on these observations. Part 2: Hand Specimen Petrology: Students are provided with hand specimens from classic ore assemblages. They are examined on their recognition of ore and gangue minerals, geological relationships and textures required in order to provide an interpretation (with reasoning) of the probable ore-forming environment and processes.

Written Report (50%): A 2000 word report detailing the geological characteristics and mode of formation of a deposit or deposits currently under development for mining or a key exploration target. In addition, the students will assess the economic and environmental factors which impact upon the development of the resource.

Assessment Deadlines

Written Report: Semester 2, Week 9 - Monday

Practical Exam: Semester 2, Week 10 - Thursday

Panel Assessment: Semester 2, Week 10 ¿ Day of week TBC
Feedback Verbal feedback is given on a weekly basis through interaction with staff and demonstrators during practical sessions on all aspects of the course.

A formative feedback exercise on reflected light microscopy is provided early in the course through the submission of a brief report based on observations made during a practical session. Written feedback is provided on this assignment allowing students to assess their ability in this new technique.

Further written feedback is provided at the end of the course through the marking of the practical examination and course project. Additional further verbal feedback is given to small groups of students at the end of their panel assessments.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a broad and integrated knowledge of metalliferious ore deposits.
  2. Discuss ore deposits based on their geological environments of formation.
  3. Will be able to use a reflected light microscope to identify ore minerals. 
  4. To perform a critical analysis of literature and assess the factors influencing the value of an ore deposit.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements None
KeywordsOre Mineralogy,Petrology,Geochemistry
Course organiserDr Ian Butler
Tel: (0131 6)50 5885
Course secretaryMr Johan De Klerk
Tel: (0131 6)50 7010
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