Treasure Maps, Sustainable Development, and the Billion-Year Stability of Cratonic Lithosphere

Event Type: Seminar

Date: 16 March 2021, 13:00 to 15:00

About the Event

Sustainable development and the transition to a clean-energy economy is placing ever-increasing demand on global metal supplies. Significant shortfalls are forecast in the coming decades, necessitating substantial improvements in our ability to locate new deposits that are buried beneath Earth's surface. Large quantities of these metals have been deposited by low-temperature hydrothermal circulation within sedimentary basins over the last 2 billion years. Despite over a century of research, relationships between these deposits and geological structures remain enigmatic. Here, I will show that 85% of sediment-hosted base metals, including all giant deposits ( more than 10 megatonnes of metal), occur within 200 km of the edges of thick lithosphere, as mapped using surface wave tomography and a parameterisation for anelasticity at seismic frequencies. This remarkable observation implies long-term lithospheric edge stability and a genetic link between deep Earth processes and near-surface hydrothermal mineral systems. This result provides an unprecedented global framework for identifying fertile regions for targeted mineral exploration, reducing the search-space for new deposits by two-thirds on this lithospheric thickness criterion alone.

Watch Now

The recorded version of this live webinar is now available for viewing.

About the Speaker

Mark Hoggard

Mark Hoggard (he/him) grew up in the Lake District of northern England before undertaking an undergraduate and PhD at the University of Cambridge. He has spent the last 3 years as a post-doc in the US, working jointly between Harvard and Columbia Universities, before moving to the Australian National University earlier this month. His research is focussed on understanding links between solid-Earth dynamics and surface processes. He is working on projects including the influence of mantle convection on landscape evolution, the stability of ice sheets and associated sea-level projections, and the distribution of natural resources. In his spare time, Mark is an avid climber and when not in the office, is likely to be found scouting out new crags around whichever city he is currently living in. For more information on Mark, please visit


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