Gold deposits may be created in a flash. Along fault zones deep within Earth’s crust, small cavities filled with fluids rich in dissolved substances such as gold and silicate minerals can grow suddenly to as much as 130,000 times their former size during a major earthquake, a new analysis suggests.Pressure drops accordingly, driving a process the scientists call flash evaporation. And when the pressure in the cavity suddenly drops, the solubility of minerals in the water there drops also. Along with substantial quantities of quartz, large earthquakes could deposit as much as 0.1 milligrams of gold along each square meter of a fault zone’s surface in just a fraction of a second (gold-flecked chunk of quartz from the Red Lake Mine of Ontario, inset). Because mineral-rich waters continually infiltrate cavities along the fault, ore deposits accumulate with each passing quake. Typical rates of seismicity along a fault, such as the San Andreas fault zone shown in the main image, could generate a 100-metric-ton deposit of gold in less than 100,000 years. More than 80% of the world’s gold deposits may have been formed via flash evaporation along fault zones, the researchers estimate. The new model may even lead to a new style of mineral exploration.
source: science shot
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- Earthquakes Deposit Gold In Fault Zones (news.slashdot.org)
- Researchers Find Link Between Earthquakes and Gold Deposits (sci-news.com)
- Earthquakes Make Gold Veins in an Instant (scientificamerican.com)
- Gold deposits formed by earthquakes (sciencealert.com.au)
- Most gold deposits were produced by earthquakes (io9.com)