On the Association of Ore Deposits with Stromatolites

  • M. Brongersma-Sanders


Several stratiform ore deposits show the following characteristics: (1) close association with stromatolites; (2) occurrence along the borders of a sea with oxygen-poor bottom water; (3) (particularly in the case of Cu deposits) neighborhood of red beds and/or evaporites suggesting a marginal-marine, warm-arid environment. The combination of a warm-arid coast with an oxygen-deficient sea is reminiscent of the rainless deserts along oxygen-deficient seas in areas of strong upwelling.

Seawater may be the source of the metals. The total metal content (dissolved, in living plankton and in particulate organic matter) is relatively high in upwelling systems. Exceptionally high contents occur in slicks (smooth patches on the sea due to capillary wave damping) and foam developing particularly in highly productive, coastal waters. The following hypothesis is presented: metal-containing particulate matter of slicks and foam is trapped by the microbial mats. A high oxygen supply in the surface layer of a mat favors degradation of organic slick complexes, and release of metals as free ions, to be followed by precipitation of metal sulfides in the H2S-containing bottom layer.


Particulate Organic Matter Coastal Upwelling Total Metal Content Econ Geol Strong Upwelling 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Brongersma-Sanders
    • 1
  1. 1.National Natuurhistorisch MuseumLeidenThe Netherlands

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