Volume 8 Issue 3, March 2015

Volume 8 Issue 3

The processes that create economic-grade accumulations of metals above magma chambers are unclear. High-temperature laboratory experiments show that rapid reactions between magmatic gases and Earth's crust can trigger efficient metal deposition. The image shows the Grasberg Copper-Gold-Silver porphyry deposit in Papua, Indonesia, which contains reserves of well over 24 Mt of copper and 2,000 t of gold.

Letter p210; News & Views p168




  • Editorial |

    Modern societies require more and more metals, not least for renewable energy generation. Scientists from a range of disciplines are needed to prospect for ore deposits and provide a basis for sustainable exploration.


  • Commentary |

    The status of sea floors is an important part of healthy marine ecosystems and intact coastlines. We need laws and a sea-floor management regime to make the exploitation of marine resources sustainable.

    • Till Markus
    • , Katrin Huhn
    •  & Kai Bischof
  • Commentary |

    Ore bodies buried deep in Earth's crust could meet increasing global demands for metals, but mining them would be costly and could damage the environment. Reinventing an ancient technology for bioleaching metals could provide a solution.

    • D. Barrie Johnson

News and Views

  • News & Views |

    Metals often accumulate in the crust beneath volcanoes. Laboratory experiments and observations reveal important roles for magmatic vapours and brines in transporting and concentrating the metals into deposits worth targeting for extraction.

    • Olivier Nadeau
  • News & Views |

    The Witwatersrand Basin in South Africa contains extraordinary amounts of gold. Thermodynamic calculations suggest that the gold may have accumulated there in response to a perfect storm of conditions available only during the Archaean.

    • Fabrice Gaillard
    •  & Yoann Copard
  • News & Views |

    Beneath the fresh and cold surface water in the Arctic Ocean resides more saline and warmer water of Atlantic origin. Pan-Arctic measurements of turbulent mixing suggest that tidal mixing is bringing up substantial amounts of heat in some areas.

    • Camille Lique
  • News & Views |

    Instrumental records have hinted that aerosol emissions may be shifting rainfall over Central America southwards. A 450-year-long precipitation reconstruction indicates that this shift began shortly after the Industrial Revolution.

    • Jud Partin
  • News & Views |

    The hydrology of the North American west looked very different at the Last Glacial Maximum to today. A model–data comparison suggests the observed precipitation patterns are best explained if the storm track was squeezed and steered by high-pressure systems.

    • Aaron E. Putnam




  • Focus |

    The genesis of metal resources

    The demand for metals continues to grow, driven by the development of new technologies and the need for infrastructure to sustain ever-increasing populations. With improved understanding of the processes that transport and accumulate metals into economically viable deposits, we can target new places for exploration. In this Web Focus, we bring together a collection of primary research articles and opinion pieces that advance our understanding of how and where metals become enriched in Earth's crust and discuss strategies for their extraction.