Ore Metals Through Geologic History

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Science  22 Mar 1985:
Vol. 227, Issue 4693, pp. 1421-1428
DOI: 10.1126/science.227.4693.1421


The ores of chromite, nickel, copper, and zinc show a wide distribution over geologic time, but those of iron, titanium, lead, uranium, gold, silver, molybdenum, tungsten, and tin are more restricted. Many of the limitations to specific time intervals are probably imposed by the evolving tectonic history of Earth interacting with the effects of the biomass on the evolution of the earth's s surface chemistry. Photosynthetic generation of free oxygen and "carbon" contributes significantlly to the diversity of redox potentials in both sedimentary and igneous-related processes of ore formation, influencing the selection of metals at the source, during transport, and at the site of ore deposition.