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Sedimentary exhalative (sedex) zinc-lead-silver deposit model

October 28, 2016

This report draws on previous syntheses and basic research studies of sedimentary exhalative (sedex) deposits to arrive at the defining criteria, both descriptive and genetic, for sedex-type deposits. Studies of the tectonic, sedimentary, and fluid evolution of modern and ancient sedimentary basins have also been used to select defining criteria. The focus here is on the geologic characteristics of sedex deposit-hosting basins that contain greater than 10 million metric tons of zinc and lead. The enormous size of sedex deposits strongly suggests that basin-scale geologic processes are involved in their formation. It follows that mass balance constraints of basinal processes can provide a conceptual underpinning for the evaluation of potential ore-forming mechanisms and the identification of geologic indicators for ore potential in specific sedimentary basins. Empirical data and a genetic understanding of the physicochemical, geologic, and mass balance conditions required for each of these elements are used to establish a hierarchy of quantifiable geologic criteria that can be used in U.S. Geological Survey national assessments.  In addition, this report also provides a comprehensive evaluation of environmental considerations associated with the mining of sedex deposits.