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Systems-deposits-commodities-critical minerals table for the earth mapping resources initiative

May 28, 2021

To define and prioritize focus areas across the United States with resource potential for 35 critical minerals in a few years’ time, the U.S Geological Survey Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) required an efficient approach to streamline workflow. A mineral systems approach based on current understanding of how ore deposits that contain critical minerals form and relate to broader geologic frameworks and the tectonic history of the Earth was used to satisfy this Earth MRI need. This report describes the rationale for, and structure of, a table developed for Earth MRI that relates critical minerals and principal commodities to the deposit types and mineral systems in which they are concentrated. The hierarchical relationship between systems, deposits, commodities, and critical minerals makes it possible to define and prioritize each system-based focus area once for all of the critical minerals that it may contain. This approach is advantageous because mineral systems are much larger than individual ore deposits and they generally have geologic features that can be “imaged” by the topographic, geologic, geochemical, and geophysical mapping techniques deployed by Earth MRI.