Short course - Geochemistry of Hydrothermal Ore Deposits (Oct 21-28, 2017)

The University of Ottawa Joint Modular Courses in Hydrothermal Ore Deposits are intensive 8-day short courses on the geology and genesis of ore deposits. This year's course will focus on hydrothermal ore deposits at a range of crustal levels – from deep orogenic systems to the surficial environment.

Leading experts will introduce the basic principles that govern the evolution of ore-forming fluids, the importance of different ore-fluid reservoirs, the interaction of hydrothermal fluids with different rock types, and the causes of mineral precipitation. Case studies will be presented for some of the world's most important ore deposit types in both continental and submarine settings, with an emphasis on where ore fluids originate, how and where they derive their metals, and where they end up ‒ all fundamental pieces of the mineral systems puzzle. The material will be suitable for graduate students with advanced 3rd and 4th-year training in ore deposits and for professionals in industry.

The course will be presented as four 2-day modules that focus on the following topics:

  • Practical guides to the ore elements, minerals, and fluids
  • Orogenic gold and porphyry-related systems 
  • Epithermal systems and iron oxide-copper-gold deposits
  • Volcanogenic massive sulfides and ore deposits in surficial environments
  • Applications to exploration

The course is open to graduate students from any university as well as professionals in industry. Graduate students may be eligible for credit toward their degree programs. Industry participants may receive credit toward professional training requirements.

Course Timetable

Days 1 and 2: A Practical Guide to the Ore Elements, Minerals and Fluids

Hydrothermal fluids can transport the full spectrum of ore elements from A to Z. The sources of those elements, the transport mechanisms and the controls on precipitation fundamentally determine where and when mineral deposits form. But how do geochemically scare elements, with very low crustal abundances, become concentrated in ore-forming fluids and ultimately precipitate as ore deposits? Why are some ore elements found in one deposit type but not in others? These questions will be addressed using simple geochemical models of ore-forming fluids in a range of settings. The first day will explore the response of different ore elements to metal complexing, the basic principles of ore mineral stabilities, and how to interpret the mineralogy of hydrothermal ore deposits in terms of fundamental controls on ore formation (temperature, pH, redox state). Observations from the outcrop scale and in drill core will be linked to experimental data to help understand processes ranging from ore mineral zoning to replacement reactions. The second day will focus on processes of hydrothermal alteration and the record of fluid-rock interaction observable in the field and under the microscope. Hydrothermal ore deposits are the end products of reactions with rocks and magmas involving many different pathways and over a wide range of temperatures and pressures. The site of ore deposition may be proximal to the source of the fluids, as in magmatic-related deposits, or distal, as in mesothermal gold or VMS deposits. This part of the course will explore how multidisciplinary approaches to the study of alteration mineral assemblages can reveal complex ore-fluid evolution and pathways.  Alteration will be reviewed at a basic level, integrating field observations with petrography, SEM-EDS, and isotopic studies to explore the processes most important for ore formation.

Days 3 and 4: Orogenic Gold Deposits and Porphyry-Related Systems

The second module will apply the principles of geochemistry and fluid evolution to the interpretation of hydrothermal ore deposits at deep crustal levels, from orogenic gold deposits to higher level porphyry-related magmatic-hydrothermal systems. Orogenic gold deposits are the most widely distributed gold deposit types in space and time. They are formed in crustal rocks that have been added to growing continental blocks and are closely linked to progressive devolatilization that releases gold and sulfur needed for ore formation. The ore-hosting terranes include major accretionary orogenic belts of the North American and South American Cordillera, the Central Asia Orogenic Belt, eastern Russia, the Tasman fold system, and the Otago belt, as well as greenstone belts such as those in West Africa, the Yilgarn craton, and Superior Province. In this part of the course, the complex regional tectonic and structural controls on gold deposits in these deformed metamorphic terranes will be examined, and the most important geological and geochemical features of the deposits will be considered as a foundation for exploration strategies. In addition, comparisons and contrasts with Carlin-type, intrusion-related, and Witwatersrand gold deposits will be presented.  The second day will focus on ore deposits in the world’s major volcanic arcs, including giant porphyry systems which are economically the most important class of hydrothermal ore deposits. The emphasis will be on understanding the role of intrusive systems as a trigger for large-scale hydrothermal activity, the compositions of the ore fluids and their links to the geochemistry of the magmas. Among the major themes will be the regional tectonic controls on emplacement of voluminous calc-alkaline magma in the upper crust as a fundamental guide to exploration, with examples from Papua New Guinea, South America, and the neo-Tethyan metallogenic belt from the Alps to the Himalayas. The course will examine how the evolution of magmatic-hydrothermal systems over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales contributes to the large size and diversity of porphyry Cu-Au deposits.

Days 5 and 6: Epithermal Systems and Iron Oxide-Copper-Gold Deposits

The third module will explore two other important hydrothermal ore deposit types in continental and volcanic arc terranes. These include low- and intermediate-sulfidation epithermal deposits that contain significant quantities of Au and Ag, along with minor amounts of base metals. The first day of the module will examine a variety of polymetallic epithermal Au-Ag vein and breccia systems, as well as their modern analogues in active geothermal environments. The latter have led to many new concepts in the understanding of epithermal deposits and have aided in the development of genetic and exploration models. Case studies will be developed that focus on the geological, mineralogical and geochemical characteristics of important epithermal systems in North and South America, Australia, and Indonesia. Special emphasis will be placed on the interpretation of local volcanic settings, alteration mineralogy and geochemistry, gangue mineralogy, and the nature of the precious metals enrichment. On the second day, we will explore an enigmatic class of hydrothermal ore deposits known as iron oxide-copper-gold or IOCG deposits. They include a wide range of mineralization and alteration styles, most commonly characterized by hematite or magnetite orebodies emplaced as hydrothermal breccias, veins or replacement zones associated with large-scale sodic-calcic and more proximal potassic hydrothermal alteration systems. World-class examples occur in the Carajás district in Brazil (Sossego, and Salobo), the Gawler craton (Olympic Dam) and Cloncurry belt (Ernest Henry) in Australia, and in Chile (Candelaria, Manto Verde). A variety of fluid sources have been proposed from Fe and P-rich oxide melts formed through liquid immiscibility, to magmatic hyrothermal to non-magmatic basinal brines. Developing exploration strategies in the absence of a well-defined genetic model will be examined.

Days 7 and 8: Volcanogenic Massive Sulfides and Ore Deposits in Surficial Environments

The final 2 days of the course will focus first on ore deposits in the oceans and then on the fate of ore deposits on the land surface. Submarine hydrothermal vents (black smokers) and volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits are among the oldest and most familiar ore-forming systems in the geologic record, yet there is a remarkable diversity of deposit types in different geodynamic settings. This part of the course will examine the nature of large-scale fluid flow in submarine volcanic environments, with an emphasis on the formation of volcanic-hosted massive sulphide deposits in different volcanic arc and mid-ocean ridge-like settings. Special emphasis will be placed on the interpretation of the geochemistry of the host volcanic rocks and the significance of different ore-hosting suites as guides for exploration. This module will also examine the mineralogy and geochemistry of hydrothermal alteration, metal zoning, the origins of ore-related sediments, and implications for understanding the seafloor paleoenvironment at the time of ore deposition. During the second day, we will examine how different ore deposits behave when exposed at surface, including supergene enrichment of metals as well as the environmental aspects associated with weathering of exposed ore deposits. Fundamentals of low-temperature aqueous geochemistry used in geoenvironmental modeling will be presented, with examples of how these models can be integrated in exploration. Case studies will examine the influences of surrounding geological terrain, host rocks, and ore mineralogy, including the release/sorption of metals and other elements, links to the microbiology, and the important role of hydrogeology and hydrogeochemistry in identifying the sources, cycling, and fate of metals and metalloids in the surficial environment. Other aspects, such as the characterization of risk at different stages of resource development, from exploration through permitting, active mining, closure and reclamation will also be discussed with reference to specific environmental challenges associated with different ore deposit types.

  • Mark Hannington is Professor of Economic Geology and Goldcorp Chair in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Ottawa. He obtained his M.Sc. and Ph.D. at the University of Toronto (1989) and spent 15 years as a research scientist at the Geological Survey of Canada before moving to the University of Ottawa in 2005. His research combines the study of active volcanoes on the ocean floor and associated metal-depositing hot springs ("black smoker vents") with research on ancient volcanic environments that host VMS deposits. He has participated on 24 research cruises to active submarine volcanoes on the East Pacific Rise, Juan de Fuca Ridge, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Mediterranean, Iceland, New Zealand, Antarctica, and Papua New Guinea. He has also conducted major research projects on VMS, including the giant Kidd Creek deposit, the gold-rich LaRonde deposit, and regional-scale hydrothermal alteration in the Noranda district. Dr. Hannington was editor of the journal Economic Geology from 2001 to 2008.
  • Matthew Leybourne is Associate Professor of Geochemistry in the Department of Earth Sciences at Laurentian University. He is a graduate of the University of Waikato in New Zealand and the Acadia University, and he received his PhD from the University of Ottawa. He started his career working on the hydrogeochemistry of surface waters in the VMS environment, in the Mineral Resources Division of the Geological Survey of Canada, before taking a position as Assistant Professor of Geochemistry at the University of Texas in Austin where he established a new ICP-ES/MS and IC geochemical facility. In 2006 he moved to New Zealand, where he was Senior Scientist at GNS responsible for fluid geochemistry of active submarine hydrothermal systems. He established a new IC-MS laboratory at GNS and was Object Leader in NZs offshore minerals program. In 2012 he moved back to Canada to become the Senior Geochemist at ALS Minerals in Vancouver, where he provided technical and scientific leadership in method development and applications. His diverse career has made him one of the leading experts in Canada on geochemistry applied to mineral exploration and the interpretation of hydrothermal ore deposits.
  • Daniel J. Kontak is Professor of Economic Geology and Chair of Earth Sciences at Laurentian University. He obtained a B.Sc. at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia and studied the metallogeny of uranium in the Central Mineral Belt of Labrador for his M.Sc. (1980) at the University of Alberta. He completed a Ph.D. at Queen's University in 1985 on the metallogeny of granite-related mineral deposits in the Andes. From 1986 to 2006, Prof. Kontak was the leading economic geologist with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, where he worked on a variety of mineral resource projects, including granite Sn‑W‑Ta‑base metals, pegmatite Ta‑Li, metamorphic and intrusion related Au, VHMS, porphyry Cu‑Mo‑Au, carbonate Zn‑Pb‑Ba, and industrial minerals (barite, zeolites). He joined the faculty of Laurentian University in 2006. His research interests span the geological setting of base and precious metal deposits with an emphasis on integrating field and laboratory studies to unravel the nature and origin of the mineralizing environment, from regional to local scales, including geochronology, petrology, stable and radiogenic tracers, whole rock and mineral chemistry and fluid chemistry. He serves in many roles in the geoscience community in Canada, including Past President of the Mineralogical Association of Canada.
  • Richard J. Goldfarb was a research geologist with the Minerals Program of the U.S. Geological Survey for 36 years. He has conducted studies on the distribution of gold deposits throughout the world, compiling some of the most comprehensive global descriptions of their spatial-temporal setting and evaluating their controlling factors.  His research has been focused on global metallogeny, geology of ore deposits in the North American Cordillera with emphasis on orogenic gold, distribution and geology of lode gold deposits in China and elsewhere in Asia, and fluid inclusion and stable isotope applications to the understanding of ore genesis.  Rich has senior authored and co-authored more than 225 papers on mineral resources, with many recognized as the authoritative research on orogenic gold and on aspects of regional metallogeny.  He has served as President of the Society of Economic Geologists, is a past Silver Medalist and lecturer of the Society, has served as chief editor of Mineralium Deposita, is presently on the editorial board of Economic Geology and was one of the co-editors of the Economic Geology 100th Anniversary Volume. He received his BS in geology from Bucknell University, MS in hydrology from MacKay School of Mines, and PhD in geology from the University of Colorado.  Presently, he is an adjunct professor at Colorado School of Mines and China University of Geosciences Beijing, as well as an independent consultant.
  • Jeremy P. Richards is Canada Research Chair in Metallogeny at Laurentian University, Sudbury, and is a registered professional geologist. He received a BA in geology from Cambridge University in 1983, an MSc from the University of Toronto in 1986, and a PhD from the Australian National University in 1990. He was appointed as Lecturer at the University of Leicester, UK, in 1992, and joined the University of Alberta in 1997 where he worked as a Professor in Economic Geology before moving to Laurentian University in 2017. His research interests focus on the genesis of hydrothermal mineral deposits, and in particular regional tectonic and magmatic controls on porphyry and epithermal mineralization. He also pursues research in sustainable development as applied to the minerals industry. He is currently an associate editor of the journal Economic Geology. He was chief editor of a Society of Economic Geologists Special Publication on Tethyan Tectonics and Metallogeny (2016), editor of the journal Exploration & Mining Geology, and associate editor of the Economic Geology 100th Anniversary Volume and Mineralium Deposita. He received the Society of Economic Geologists Lindgren Award in 1995, and Silver Medal in 2016; he was the SEG 2002/2003 International Exchange Lecturer, and the SEG 2016 Thayer Lindsley Visiting Lecturer. He has also received the Geological Association of Canada Hutchison Medal in 2007, and the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Julian Boldy Memorial Award in 2007.
  • David R. Burrows is the chief geologist for Vale. He completed his undergraduate geology degree at Trinity College in Dublin and obtained a MS. and PhD at the University of Toronto, where he examined the relationship of Archean lode Au ± Mo-W deposits to felsic intrusions in the Abitibi subprovince. He joined Inco Exploration in 1990, at first involved in the structural analysis of gold deposits, but subsequently in exploration for a variety of deposit types including VMS, magmatic Ni-Cu PGE deposits, sediment-hosted Pb-Zn and Cu deposits, porphyry Cu-Au, epithermal, and most recently IOCG-type deposits. He held the position of chief geologist within Inco Exploration for eight years and was involved in exploration programs in over 30 countries. Since joining Vale in late 2006, he has worked on ore deposits throughout the world, including in Canada, Australia, South America, Africa, Mongolia, and Namibia. He served as Associate Editor of Economic Geology for 9 years (2001-2009). He is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Mineral Exploration Research Centre at Laurentian University and industry advisor to the SEG Student Chapter at Laurentian.
  • J. Bruce Gemmell is the Director of the world-leading Centre for Ore Deposits Research (CODES) and formerly Head of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Tasmania.  Bruce obtained his BSc from the University of British Columbia and MSc and PhD (1987) from Dartmouth College. His early research was on the trace metal geochemistry of volcanic gases from active volcanoes in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and the geology and mineralogy of epithermal Ag veins in Mexico. Bruce later gained extensive experience in a wide range of ore deposit types, including landmark research on the volcanic-hosted massive sulfide deposits of Western Tasmania and the North American cordillera, where he has worked extensively in mineral exploration, as well as on modern seafloor hydrothermal systems. More recently he and his students have conducted detailed research on base and precious metal vein systems in Indonesia and South America, developing process-based exploration models focusing on zoning in the porphyry-epithermal transition. Bruce has supervised 40 MSc and PhD students and has won a number of awards for his teaching at UTAS. He and his team are well known for their industry-sponsored research and for their many short courses on mineral exploration delivered to international audiences worldwide. Bruce has been a member of the editorial boards of both Mineralium Deposita and Economic Geology, and he has been guest editor of numerous Special Issues of Economic Geology focusing on VHMS and epithermal ore deposits.
  • Stephen J. Piercey completed his undergraduate and MSc degrees at Memorial University and obtained a PhD from The University of British Columbia. From 2001-2008 he was an Assistant and Associate Professor at Laurentian University and from 2008-2009 he was the principal of SJPGeoConsulting. He is currently a Professor in Earth Sciences at Memorial University where he has been since 2009. His research and teaching interests, in the field and laboratory, are focused on the genesis of mineral deposits and the tectonic evolution of mountain belts, with emphasis on volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS), as well as orogenic Au and U deposits. In recent years his research on VMS deposits has focused on their larger-scale tectonic and magmatic setting, with an emphasis on their volcanic, sedimentary, and hydrothermal reconstruction, sources of metals, fluids, and sulfur, and their relationship to the evolution of the lithospheric, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere.
  • Robert R. Seal is a research geologist with the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia. He received his BSc degree from Virginia Tech, his MSc degree from Queen’s University in Ontario, and his PhD from the University of Michigan – all in Geological Sciences with an emphasis on economic geology. His research at the USGS has focused on ore deposits and especially the environmental aspects of mining. He has wide-ranging expertise in mineralogy, stable isotopes, aqueous geochemistry and fluid-mineral equilibria related to all types of ore deposits. He is a fellow in Society of Economic Geologists, and was a long-time associate editor for Economic Geology and also Applied Geochemistry.  He has authored or co-authored over 90 publications, including landmark reviews on Stable Isotope Systematics of Sulfate Minerals and Sulfur Isotope Geochemistry of Sulfide Minerals for Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry. He is a technical advisor for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for mining-related Superfund sites, and he has been a member of several technical working groups related to the Pebble deposit in SW Alaska.
Costs and Registration


Advanced undergraduate level (3rd or 4th-year) courses in geochemistry, petrology and ore deposits are strongly recommended. For students without prerequisites, permission from the course administrator is required.

Course Materials

A complete set of notes and related course material will be provided for each 2-day session of the course. These will form the basis for daily problem sets and practical exercises, and a final take-home exam.

Course Format and Evaluation

Students registered in the course will be evaluated on the basis of problem sets/exercises administered at the end of each day (60% of the final mark) and a final take-home exam based on lecture materials and reading related to the course (40% of the final mark). Time will be allocated at the end of each day to discuss materials presented in the class and assist with problem sets. The take-home exam will be due 1 week after the end of the course (November 4, 2017).

Professional Development

The course is applicable toward continuing education and professional development requirements for Professional Registration.


The student fee is $ 50 for a two-day session ($ 75 after August 21) and $ 200.00 for the full course ($ 300.00 after August 21). Fees for professional participants are $ 500 for a 2-day session.

End of pre-registration: August 21, 2017


Please contact Sarina Cotroneo to get the registration form.

Sarina Cotroneo,
Department of Earth Sciences,
University of Ottawa,
25 Templeton Street,
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5
Tel: +1 (613) 562-5292
Fax: +1 (613) 562-5192


Payment may be made by cheque, money order, cash or by credit card via the university’s secure online store.

Graduate Student Credit and Registration

This course will correspond to University of Ottawa GEO 5306 and Laurentian University GEOL 5607 (3 credits). Students must attend the entire course for full credit. Students from any university are eligible to take the course. Students enrolled at ONTARIO universities wishing to transfer credit for this course to their home institution must complete an Ontario Visiting Graduate Student (OVGS) form. Contact your academic unit or your Graduate Studies office for the form. Students at NON-ONTARIO universities or those not registered in the OVGS program may receive credit from their home institutions, but you are responsible for obtaining the approval and credit from your own Department. Students at NON-ONTARIO universities (Canadian and non-Canadian) wishing to receive an official transcript from the University of Ottawa must be admitted to the University of Ottawa as Special Students and registered Part-Time. Please contact us by email for more information. All students will receive a letter from the course instructor indicating successful completion of the course and a course mark, where appropriate. However, only those students registered with the Ontario Visiting Graduate Student Program or as part-time students at the University of Ottawa will receive an official transcript. Other students are encouraged to discuss obtaining credit for this course with their home Departments.

Location and Services

Lectures will be held in the Faculty of Social Sciences Building on the University of Ottawa Campus. Surface and underground pay parking is available on the campus. The course has been scheduled during Reading Week, so some services may not be available. Information on local accommodations is available by email.

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