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A New Occurrence Model for National Assessment of Undiscovered Volcanogenic Massive Sulfide Deposits

October 17, 2009

Volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits are very significant current and historical resources of Cu-Pb-Zn-Au-Ag, are active exploration targets in several areas of the United States and potentially have significant environmental effects. This new USGS VMS deposit model provides a comprehensive review of deposit occurrence and ore genesis, and fully integrates recent advances in the understanding of active seafloor VMS-forming environments, and integrates consideration of geoenvironmental consequences of mining VMS deposits.

Because VMS deposits exhibit a broad range of geological and geochemical characteristics, a suitable classification system is required to incorporate these variations into the mineral deposit model. We classify VMS deposits based on compositional variations in volcanic and sedimentary host rocks. The advantage of the classification method is that it provides a closer linkage between tectonic setting and lithostratigraphic assemblages, and an increased predictive capability during field-based studies.