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.

Active Projects (in addition to the ones below)

Unconventional Stratabound Critical Mineral deposits of the Midcontinent: Linkages between mineralization in Marine Epicontinental Sedimentary Basin Systems

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

Filter Total Items: 17
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: 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...

Date published: June 11, 2019
Status: Active

Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) Data Acquisition and Coordination

Project goal is to provide the scientific foundation for the entire Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) to develop a consistent method for prioritizing areas for the new national-scale data acquisition needed to identify undiscovered critical mineral resources. USGS, in coordination with State Geological Surveys, is acquiring new topographic,...

Date published: August 3, 2018
Status: Active

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: 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...

Date published: May 25, 2018
Status: Active

Tellurium in Igneous-related Epithermal Precious Metal Deposits in Colorado and New Mexico

The project aims to improve our understanding of the causes of tellurium enrichment in epithermal precious metal deposits, and strengthen our ability to assess the Nation's tellurium deposits. Tellurium is used in solar panel technologies and is considered a critical mineral. Epithermal deposits of this type represent a prospective future source of tellurium.

Date published: May 22, 2018
Status: Active

Tectonic and Metallogenic Evolution of the Eastern Yukon-Tanana Upland, Alaska

The Yukon-Tanana terrane, stretching from eastern Alaska to northern British Columbia, is a geologically complex block containing deposits of base-metal, platinum-group-element, and gold-silver-copper mineralization.

Date published: April 19, 2018
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: April 3, 2018
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: April 2, 2018
Status: Active

Heavy-Mineral Sand Resources in the Southeastern U.S.

We are assessing the extent of industrial mineral resources hosted by heavy-mineral sands in the coastal plain of the southeastern United States. “Heavy-mineral sands" (HMS) is a term commonly used in industry and geologic literature to describe layered sediments deposited in coastal environments that contain dense (“heavy") minerals of economic value. The heavy minerals extracted from these...

Date published: September 29, 2017
Status: Completed

New Mineral Deposit Models for Gold, Phosphate Rare Earth Elements, and Placer Rare Earth Element-Titanium Resources

USGS Mineral Deposit Models are "an organized arrangement of information describing the essential characteristics or properties of a class of mineral deposits. Models themselves can be classified according to their essential attributes (for example: descriptive, grade-tonnage models, genetic, geoenvironmental, geophysical, probability of occurrence, and quantitative process models)." (...

Contacts: Ryan D Taylor
Date published: September 30, 2016
Status: Completed

Petrogenesis and REE Metallogenesis of 1.4 Ga Magmatism in the Conterminous U.S.

This project evaluated the petrology and metallogeny of rare earth element-mineralized 1.4 Ga intrusive systems at Mountain Pass and in the St. Francois Mountains relative to those of other, apparently, unmineralized 1.4 Ga intrusive systems in the conterminous U.S.