Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center

Economic and Framework Geology

The Economic and Framework Geology Branch studies the occurrence and formation processes of earth materials that can be used for economic, technological, or industrial purposes. The Branch uses several tools, including exploration geochemistry, geologic mapping and field observations combined with geochronology studies, tectonics, structural geology, and crustal fluid flow to advance understanding of the controls on orebody formation in the Earth’s crust. The Branch combines information on framework geology, mineral deposit models, geophysical setting, geochemistry, and environmental signatures of ore deposits to develop specialized mineral deposit databases and provide robust assessments of mineral commodities and their environmental expressions in support of land management decisions and resource management.

Additional Projects (in addition to the ones below)

Iron Oxide-Copper-Cobalt-Gold-Rare Earth Element Deposits of Southeast Missouri

Filter Total Items: 26
Date published: August 4, 2021
Status: Active

Critical Minerals Mapping Initiative (CMMI)

The USGS, in combination with Geoscience Australia and the Geological Survey of Canada, formed the Critical Minerals Mapping Initiative (CMMI) in 2019 to combine expertise and collaboratively conduct research on critical mineral resources.

Date published: September 14, 2020
Status: Active

USMIN Mineral Deposit Database

Our objective is to develop a national-scale, geospatial database that is the authoritative source of the most important mines, mineral deposits, and mineral districts of the United States.

Date published: August 3, 2020
Status: Completed

Non-Traditional Stable Isotopes

Understanding the genesis of ore deposits and their behavior in the environment is a subject of great importance to the Nation. A relatively new tool to aid in these efforts to investigate the origin and environmental effects of ore deposits is the use of "heavy" metal stable isotopes. Our research objectives are to utilize various isotopic systems to advance our understanding of ore genesis...

Date published: June 19, 2020
Status: Completed

Critical Elements in Carbonatites: From Exploration Targets to Element Distribution

Critical elements are essential to the modern economy and have potential supply chain disruptions, but compared to most base and precious metals, little work has been done in understanding ore-grade enrichments. Carbonatites are the primary source of the worlds light rare earth elements and niobium, and a potential source for heavy rare earths, scandium, tantalum, and thorium. Project...

Date published: May 29, 2020
Status: Active

Argon Geochronology

This project supports the USGS argon geochronology laboratory in Denver. The USGS 40Ar/39Ar geochronology laboratory is a state-of-the-art research facility for determining absolute ages of minerals and rocks. The 40Ar/39Ar laboratory contributes critical geochronology to individual USGS research projects and to partners in academia and other Federal...

Date published: April 30, 2020
Status: Active

A Shallow to Deep View Inside the Hydrothermally Altered and Mineralized Silverton Caldera Complex: New Geologic Insights Gained From Modern Geophysical Interpretations

The Silverton caldera complex in southwest Colorado hosts base and precious metals that have been mined since the late 1800s. Extensive mine workings, excellent bedrock exposures, and deeply incised drainages make this area a natural laboratory ideally suited for furthering our understanding of the mineral systems in a volcanic environment. In addition, state-of-the-art geophysical...

Date published: September 30, 2019
Status: Completed

Sediment-Hosted Copper Deposits in the Lake Superior Portion of the Midcontinent Rift System

This project is focused on the sediment-hosted copper deposits of the Midcontinent Rift, with three main objectives: 1) describe the ore mineralogy and geochemistry of the White Pine and Copperwood deposits, 2) evaluate whether hydrothermal alteration in footwall rocks can be used as a vector towards ore, and 3) provide a careful scoping study to evaluate whether unconventional platinum-group...

Date published: July 8, 2019
Status: Active

Lithium from Source to Sink: Genesis and Evolution of Li Brines and Clays

The purpose of this project is to trace the lithium (Li) geochemical cycle in the Great Basin, with an emphasis on the pathways that lead to the development of lithium clay and brine resources.

Date published: July 3, 2019
Status: Active

Unconventional Stratabound Critical Mineral Deposits of the Midcontinent: Linkages Between Mineralization in Marine Epicontinental Sedimentary Basin Systems

This project will evaluate and characterize the critical mineral potential of midcontinent stratabound "Bathtub Rim" deposits for rare earth elements, cobalt, lithium, and associated critical mineral prospectivity and to develop and test new ore genesis models.

Contacts: Poul Emsbo
Date published: June 24, 2019
Status: Active

Systems Approach to Critical Minerals Inventory, Research, and Assessment

This project supports the Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (EarthMRI) by developing a mineral systems approach for defining focus areas. This project is investigating domestic sources of critical minerals in three sequential stages: inventory, research, and assessment.

1) Inventory the abundance of critical minerals in ore, minerals, and processed materials from major deposits in each...

Date published: August 14, 2018
Status: Completed

Iron Oxide-Copper-Cobalt-Gold-Rare Earth Element Deposits of Southeast Missouri—From the Ore Deposit Scale to a Global Deposit Model

The project main objectives are to: 1) geologically, characterize the setting and origin of the iron-copper-cobalt-gold-rare earth element deposits, and advance the knowledge of rare earth element and Co potential within iron oxide-copper-gold (IOCG) deposits of southeast Missouri, and 2) geophysically delineate and characterize the subsurface Precambrian geology using existing ground and new...

Date published: August 1, 2018
Status: Completed

Magmas to Metals: Melt Inclusion Insights into the Formation of Critical Element-Bearing Ore Deposits

This project applies innovative melt inclusion and mineralogical techniques to characterize several distinctive magma types occurring together with prodigious, critical rare earth elements (REE) and gold-(antimony-tellurium) ore deposits within the U.S. We will characterize the pre-eruptive/pre-emplacement magmatic conditions in several districts. The goal is to determine the role of magmatism...