Harald G. Dill 2010: The “chessboard” classification scheme of mineral deposits: Mineralogy and geology from aluminum to zirconium.- Earth-Science Reviews 100, 1 - 420



Economic geology is a mixtum compositum of all geoscientific disciplines focused on one goal, finding new mineral depsosits and enhancing their exploitation. The keystones of this mixtum compositum are geology and mineralogy whose studies are centered around the emplacement of the ore body and the development of its minerals and rocks. In the present study, mineralogy and geology act as x- and y-coordinates of a classification chart of mineral resources called the “chessboard” (or “spreadsheet”) classification scheme. Magmatic and sedimentary lithologies together with tectonic structures (1-D/pipes, 2-D/veins) are plotted along the x-axis in the header of the spreadsheet diagram representing the columns in this chart diagram. 63 commodity groups, encompassing minerals and elements are plotted along the y-axis, forming the lines of the spreadsheet. These commodities are subjected to a tripartite subdivision into ore minerals, industrial minerals/rocks and gemstones/ornamental stones.

Further information on the various types of mineral deposits, as to the major ore and gangue minerals, the current models and the mode of formation or when and in which geodynamic setting these deposits mainly formed throughout the geological past may be obtained from the text by simply using the code of each deposit in the chart. This code can be created by combining the commodity (lines) shown by numbers plus lower caps with the host rocks or structure (columns) given by capital letters.

Each commodity has a small preface on the mineralogy and chemistry and ends up with an outlook into its final use and the supply situation of the raw material on a global basis, which may be updated by the user through a direct link to databases available on the internet. In this case the study has been linked to the commodity database of the US Geological Survey. The internal subdivision of each commodity section corresponds to the common host rock lithologies (magmatic, sedimentary, and metamorphic) and structures. Cross sections and images illustrate the common ore types of each commodity. Ore takes priority over the mineral. The minerals and host rocks are listed by their chemical and mineralogical compositions, respectively, separated from the text but supplemented with cross-references to the columns and lines, where they prevalently occur.

A metallogenetic-geodynamic overview is given at the bottom of each column in the spreadsheet. It may be taken as the “sum” or the “ mean” of a number of geodynamic models and ideas put forward by the various researchers for all the deposits pertaining to a certain clan of lithology or structure. This classical or conservative view of metallotects related to the common plate tectonic settings is supplemented by an approach taken for the first time for such a number of deposits, using the concepts of sequence stratigraphy. This paper, so as to say, is a “launch pad” for a new mindset in metallogenesis rather than the final result.

The relationship supergene–hypogene and syngenetic–epigenetic has been the topic of many studies for ages but to keep them as separate entities is often unworkable in practice, especially in the so-called epithermal or near-surface/shallow deposits. Vein-type and stratiform ore bodies are generally handled also very differently. To get these different structural elements (space) and various mineralizing processes (time) together and to allow for a forward modeling in mineral exploration, architectural elements of sequence stratigraphy are adapted to mineral resources. Deposits are geological bodies which need accommodation space created by the environment of formation and the tectonic/geodynamic setting through time. They are controlled by horizontal to subhorizontal reference planes and/or vertical structures. Prerequisites for the deposits to evolve are thermal and/or mechanical gradients. Thermal energy is for most of the settings under consideration deeply rooted in the mantle. A perspective on how this concept might work is given in the text by a pilot project on mineral deposits in Central Europe and in the spreadsheet classification scheme by providing a color-coded categorization into

1. mineralization mainly related to planar architectural elements, e.g. sequence boundaries subaerial and unconformities

2. mineralization mainly related to planar architectural elements, e.g. sequence boundaries submarine, transgressive surfaces and maximum flooding zones/surfaces)

3. mineralization mainly controlled by system tracts (lowstand system tracts transgressive system tracts, highstand system tracts)

4. mineralization of subvolcanic or intermediate level to be correlated with the architectural elements of basin evolution

5. mineralization of deep level to be correlated with the deep-seated structural elements.

There are several squares on the chessboard left blank mainly for lack of information on sequence stratigraphy of mineral deposits. This method has not found many users yet in mineral exploration. This review is designed as an “interactive paper” open, for amendments in the electronic spreadsheet version and adjustable to the needs and wants of application, research and training in geosciences. Metamorphic host rock lithologies and commodities are addressed by different color codes in the chessboard classification scheme.

Keywords: economic geology; mineral deposits; geology; mineralogy; classification scheme; spreadsheet

Article Outline

1. Introduction

1.1. Mineral deposits and economic geology

1.2. Classification of mineral deposits through time

2. The “chessboard” (spreadsheet ) classification scheme of mineral deposits

2.1. The principles of the “chessboard” (spreadsheet ) classification scheme

2.2. The host of mineral deposits

2.2.1. Magmatic host rocks

2.2.2. Ore-bearing structures

2.2.3. Sedimentary host rocks

2.2.4. Organic material and special host rocks

2.3. Type of commodity (inorganic raw material)

2.3.1. Ore minerals

2.3.2. Industrial minerals and rocks

2.3.3. Gemstones and ornamental stones

2.4. Mineralizing processes

3. Chromium

3.1. Chemistry and mineralogy

3.2. Magmatic chromium deposits

3.3. Sedimentary chromium deposits

3.4. Metamorphic chromium (gemstone) deposit

3.5. Chromium supply and use

4. Nickel

4.1. Chemistry and mineralogy

4.2. Magmatic nickel deposits

4.3. Structure-related nickel deposits

4.4. Sedimentary nickel deposits

4.5. Nickel supply and use

5. Cobalt

5.1. Chemistry and mineralogy

5.2. Cobalt deposits

5.3. Cobalt supply and use

6. Platinum group elements (PGE)

6.1. Chemistry and mineralogy

6.2. Magmatic platinum-group-element deposits

6.3. Structure-related platinum-group-element deposits

6.4. Sedimentary platinum-group-element deposits

6.5. Platinum-group-element supply and use

7. Titanium

7.1. Chemistry and mineralogy

7.2. Magmatic titanium deposits

7.3. Structure-related titanium deposits

7.4. Sedimentary titanium deposits

7.5. Metamorphic titanium deposits

7.6. Titanium supply and use

8. Vanadium

8.1. Chemistry and mineralogy

8.2. Magmatic vanadium deposits

8.3. Sedimentary vanadium deposits

8.4. Vanadium supply and use

9. Iron

9.1. Chemistry and mineralogy

9.2. Magmatic iron deposits

9.3. Structure-related iron deposits

9.4. Sedimentary iron deposits

9.5. Metamorphic iron deposits

9.6. Iron supply and use

10. Manganese

10.1. Chemistry and mineralogy

10.2. Magmatic manganese deposits

10.3. Structure-related manganese deposits

10.4. Sedimentary manganese deposits

10.5. Metamorphic manganese deposits

10.6. Manganese supply and use

11. Copper

11.1. Chemistry and mineralogy

11.2. Magmatic copper deposits

11.3. Structure-bound copper deposit

11.4. Sedimentary copper deposits

11.5. Copper supply and use

12. Selenium and tellurium

12.1. Chemistry, mineralogy and economic geology of selenium

12.2. Chemistry, mineralogy and economic geology of tellurium

13. Molybdenum and rhenium

13.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of molybdenum

13.2. Magmatic molybdenum deposits

13.3. Sedimentary molybdenum and rhenium deposits

13.4. Molybdenum and rhenium supply and use

14. Tin and tungsten

14.1. Chemistry and mineralogy

14.2. Magmatic tin and tungsten deposits

14.3. Structure-bound tungsten deposits

14.4. Sedimentary tin and tungsten deposits

14.5. Supply and use of tin and tungsten

15. Niobium-, tantalum- and scandium

15.1. Chemistry and mineralogy

15.2. Magmatic niobium-, tantalum- and scandium deposits

15.3. Sedimentary niobium- and tantalum deposits

15.4. Supply and use of niobium and tantalum

16. Beryllium

16.1. Beryllium chemistry and mineralogy

16.2. Magmatic beryllium deposits

16.3. Structure-bound beryllium deposits

16.4. Sedimentary beryllium deposits

16.5. Metamorphic beryllium deposits

16.6. Supply and use of beryllium

17. Cesium, lithium and rubidium

17.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of cesium and lithium

17.2. Magmatic cesium-, lithium and rubidium deposits

17.3. Cesium and lithium sedimentary deposits

17.4. Cesium and lithium supply

18. Lead, zinc, germanium, indium, cadmium and silver

18.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of lead, zinc, germanium, indium, cadmium, and silver

18.2. Magmatic lead-zinc deposits

18.3. Structure-bound lead-zinc deposits

18.4. Sedimentary lead–zinc deposits

18.5. Metamorphic lead–zinc deposits

18.6. Silver deposits sensu stricto

18.7. Lead, zinc, germanium, indium, cadmium, and silver supply

18.7.1. Past and present of mining and metallurgy of lead

18.7.2. Past and present of mining and metallurgy of zinc

18.7.3. Final use of germanium, indium and cadmium

18.7.4. Final use of silver

19. Bismuth

19.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of bismuth

19.2. Deposits of bismuth

19.3. Final use of bismuth

20. Gold

20.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of gold

20.2. Magmatic gold deposits

20.3. Structure-bound gold deposits

20.4. Sedimentary gold deposits

20.5. Metamorphic gold deposits

20.6. Gold supply and use

21. Antimony, arsenic and thallium

21.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of antimony, arsenic and thallium

21.2. Antimony deposits

21.2.1. Magmatic antimony deposits

21.2.2. Structure-bound antimony deposits

21.2.3. Sedimentary antimony deposits

21.3. Arsenic deposits

21.4. Thallium deposits

21.5. Antimony, arsenic, thallium supply and use

21.5.1. Antimony

21.5.2. Arsenic

21.5.3. Thallium

22. Mercury

22.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of mercury

22.2. Magmatic mercury deposits

22.3. Structure-bound mercury deposits

22.4. Sedimentary mercury deposits

22.5. Mercury supply and use

23. Rare Earth Elements (REE)

23.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of rare earth elements

23.2. Magmatic rare earth element deposits

23.3. Structure-bound rare earth element deposits

23.4. Sedimentary rare earth element deposits

23.5. Rare earth element supply and use

24. Uranium, thorium and radium

24.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of uranium and thorium

24.2. Uranium deposits

24.2.1. Magmatic uranium deposits

24.2.2. Structure-bound uranium deposits

24.2.3. Sedimentary uranium deposits

24.3. Thorium deposits

24.3.1. Magmatic thorium deposits

24.3.2. Structure-bound thorium deposits

24.3.3. Sedimentary thorium deposits

24.3.4. Uranium and thorium supply and use

25. Aluminum and gallium

25.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of aluminum and gallium

25.2. Magmatic aluminum deposits

25.3. Sedimentary aluminum deposits

25.4. Gallium deposits

25.5. Aluminum and gallium supply and use

26. Magnesium

26.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of magnesium

26.2. Magmatic magnesium deposits

26.3. Structure-bound magnesium deposits

26.4. Sedimentary magnesium deposits

26.5. Magnesium supply and use

27. Calcium

27.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of calcium

27.2. Magmatic calcium deposits

27.3. Structure-bound calcium deposits

27.4. Sedimentary calcium deposits

27.5. Metamorphic calcium deposits

27.6. Carbonate rocks supply and use

28. Boron

28.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of boron

28.2. Magmatic boron deposits

28.3. Sedimentary boron deposits

28.4. Metamorphic boron deposits

28.5. Boron supply and use

29. Sulfur and calcium sulfate

29.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of sulfur

29.2. Magmatic sulfur and sulfate deposits

29.3. Sedimentary sulfur and Ca sulfate deposits

29.4. Sulfur and calcium sulfate supply and use

30. Fluorine

30.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of fluorine

30.2. Magmatic fluorine deposits

30.3. Structure-bound fluorite and topaz deposits

30.4. Sedimentary fluorite and topaz deposits

30.5. Fluorine supply and use

31. Barium

31.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of barium

31.2. Magmatic barium deposits

31.3. Structure-bound barium deposits

31.4. Sedimentary barium deposits

31.5. Barium supply and use

32. Strontium

32.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of strontium

32.2. Magmatic strontium deposits

32.3. Structure-bound strontium deposits

32.4. Sedimentary strontium deposits

32.5. Strontium supply and use

33. Potassium, sodium, chlorine and bromine

33.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of potassium, sodium, chlorine and bromine

33.2. Sedimentary potassium, sodium, chlorine and bromine deposits

33.3. Sodium, potassium, chlorine and bromine supply and use

34. Nitrogen and iodine

34.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of nitrogen and iodine

34.2. Sedimentary nitrogen and iodine deposits

34.3. Economic consideration of nitrogen and iodine deposits

35. Sodium carbonate and –sulfate

35.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of sodium carbonate and –sulfate

35.2. Sedimentary sodium carbonate and –sulfate deposits

35.3. Sodium carbonate and –sulfate supply and use

36. Phosphorus

36.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of phosphorus

36.2. Magmatic phosphate deposits

36.3. Structure-bound phosphate deposits

36.4. Sedimentary phosphate deposits

36.5. Metamorphic phosphate deposits

36.6. Phosphate supply and use

37. Zirconium and hafnium

37.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of zirconium and hafnium

37.2. Magmatic, metamorphic and sedimentary zirconium (hafnium) deposits

37.3. Zirconium (hafnium) supply and use


38.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of silica

38.2. Magmatic silica deposits

38.3. Structure-bound silica deposits

38.4. Sedimentary silica deposits

38.5. Metamorphic silica deposits

38.6. Silica supply and use

39. Feldspar

39.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of feldspar

39.2. Magmatic feldspar deposits

39.3. Structure-bound feldspar deposits

39.4. Sedimentary feldspar deposits

39.5. Metamorphic feldspar deposits

39.6. Feldspar supply and use

40. Feldspathoid

40.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of feldspathoids

40.2. Magmatic feldspathoids deposits

40.3. Metamorphic feldspathoids deposits

40.4. Feldspathoids supply and use

41. Zeolites

41.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of zeolites

41.2. Magmatic zeolite deposits

41.3. Sedimentary zeolite deposits

41.4. Metamorphic zeolite deposits

41.5. Zeolite supply and use

42. Amphibole and asbestos

42.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of amphibole and asbestiform minerals

42.2. Magmatic amphibole and asbestos deposits

42.3. Metamorphic amphibole and asbestos deposits

42.4. Amphibole and asbestos supply and use

43. Olivine and dunite

43.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of olivine minerals

43.2. Magmatic olivine and dunite deposits

43.3. Sedimentary olivine deposits

43.4. Metamorphic olivine and dunite deposits

43.5. Olivine and dunite supply and use

44. Pyroxene and inosilicates

44.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of pyroxene and pyroxenoid

44.2. Magmatic pyroxene and inosilicate deposits

44.3. Metamorphic pyroxene and inosilicate deposits

44.4. Pyroxene and inosilicate supply and use

45. Garnet

45.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of garnet-group minerals

45.2. Magmatic garnet deposits

45.3. Structure-bound garnet deposits

45.4. Sedimentary garnet deposits

45.5. Metamorphic garnet deposits

45.6. Garnet supply and use

46. Epidote-group minerals

46.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of epidote-group minerals

46.2. Magmatic epidote-group mineral deposits

46.3. Metamorphic epidote-group deposits

46.4. Epidote-group minerals supply and use

47. Sillimanite-group minerals

47.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of sillimanite-group minerals

47.2. Magmatic deposits of sillimanite-group minerals

47.3. Structure-bound deposits of sillimanite-group minerals and staurolite

47.4. Sedimentary deposits of sillimanite-group minerals and staurolite

47.5. Metamorphic sillimanite-group deposits

47.6. Sillimanite-group minerals and staurolite supply and use

48. Corundum and spinel

48.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of corundum and spinel minerals

48.2. Magmatic deposits of corundum and spinel minerals

48.3. Sedimentary deposits of corundum and spinel minerals

48.4. Metamorphic deposits of corundum and spinel minerals

48.5. Corundum and spinel supply and use

49. Diamond

49.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of diamond

49.2. Magmatic deposits of diamonds

49.3. Sedimentary deposits of diamonds

49.4. Metamorphic deposits of diamonds

49.5. Diamond supply and use

50. Graphite

50.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of graphite

50.2. Magmatic deposits of graphite

50.3. Structure-bound graphite deposits

50.4. Sedimentary graphite deposits

50.5. Metamorphic graphite deposits

50.6. Graphite supply and use

51. Clay minerals

51.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of clay minerals

51.2. Magmatic deposits of clay minerals

51.2.1. Serpentine–kaolin Serpentines Kaolinite-group minerals and natural Si–Al complexes

51.2.2. Talc-pyrophyllite Talc Pyrophyllite

51.2.3. Smectite

51.2.4. Vermiculite

51.2.5. Mica

51.2.6. Chlorite

51.2.7. Sepiolite–palygorskite (hormites)

51.3. Sedimentary deposits of clay minerals

51.3.1. Serpentine–kaolin Serpentines Kaolin-group minerals and natural Si–Al complexes

51.3.2. Talc-pyrophyllite

51.3.3. Smectite

51.3.4. Vermiculite

51.3.5. Mica

51.3.6. Sepiolite–palygorskite (hormites)

51.4. Metamorphic deposits of clay minerals

51.4.1. Mica–(chlorite)

51.4.2. Prehnite

51.4.3. Talc

51.4.4. Pyrophyllite

51.5. Clay minerals and phyllosilicate supply and use

52. Biological materials (“biominerals”)

52.1. Chemistry and mineralogy of biological materials

52.2. Jet and amber deposits

52.3. Supply and use of biological materials

53. Discussion

53.1. The columns: geodynamic setting and environment of deposition

53.1.1. The ultrabasic magmatic clan

53.1.2. The basic magmatic clan

53.1.3. The intermediate and felsic magmatic clan

53.1.4. The alkaline magmatic clan and carbonatites with pegmatitic plus aplitic derivative products

53.1.5. One-dimensional structures— pipes

53.1.6. Two-dimensional structures—veins

53.1.7. Duricrusts–regolith–vein like deposits

53.1.8. Coarse-grained clastic rocks

53.1.9. Fine-grained clastic rocks and massive rocks

53.1.10. Limestones

53.1.11. Evaporites

53.1.12. Special sedimentary rocks and carbon-bearing hosts

53.2. Metamorphogenetic mineral deposits

53.3. The spreadsheet correlation — bringing together the columns and the lines

53.4. Sequence stratigraphy of epigenetic and diagenetic mineral deposits in Central Europe

54. Conclusions — the importance of raw materials