Mineralization Related to Sea Level Changes

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 3
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
Although the effects of sea level changes on ore concentration processes are to some extent obvious with certain deposits, e.g. beach placer deposits, they have been largely overlooked with others such as Mississippi Valley type lead-zinc deposits. It is contended that sea level variations may have more profound effects on a wide range of deposits than has previously been appreciated. These deposits include not only placer'and residual deposits but also stratiform copper deposits, Mississippi Valley type deposits, stratiform manganese deposits and Minette type iron deposits. Sea levels in paralic basins profoundly affect the influx of 'detrital sediment, and this has to be suppressed to allow for the accumulation of thick rich deposits of coal evaporites, phosphate or metalliferous sediment. Emergence can be associated with oxidized waters, erosion, and,solution of soluble rocks. Submergence can reverse the Eh trend and can lead to preservation of ores. Both realms of surficial sedimentary environments and subsurface diagenetic environments can be affected by changes in water pressure, gas pressure (pC02), Eh, pH, and temperature as sea levels fluctuate. Even relatively small sea level changes may have profound effects. For example, there is some evidence to suggest that when the level dropped below 100 metres about 10,000 years ago, the Red Sea became isolated by the sill at Bab el Mandeb in the south, and evaporated away to leave a series of shallow lakes. The Red Sea is 1 to 2 km deep. It was at times such as this that the well-known copper-zinc mineralization developed in the Red Sea trough. Changes in sea level also affect the stability field of gas hydrates which can yield large volumes of gas leading to mass movements on the sea floor (Warnke, 1986).
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