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International Work: Mineral Systems of Northeast Asia

by Warren Nokleberg

Although northeastern Asia is purported to have vast mineral potential, little geologic information exists in English. USGS scientists with the Mineral Systems of Northeast Asia project are working with colleagues in Russia, Mongolia, the People's Republic of China, South Korea, Japan, and the United States to fill that gap. They are compiling, synthesizing, and interpreting data on mineral resources, host rocks, and metallogenic belts and publishing interpretative metallogenic and tectonic models for the region. Gathering the data is critical for mineral potential analysis, land-use planning, joint resource extraction ventures, mineral-related environmental concerns, and other societal needs. The project will provide an important foundation for the new USGS Global Mineral Resource Assessment project, the topic of an article in the next issue of USGS Minerals News.

The Mineral Systems of Northeast Asia project extends and builds on data and interpretations derived from an earlier USGS project on the mineral deposits, metallogenesis, and tectonics of the Russian Far East, Alaska, and Candian Cordillera (fig.1). The current project closely coordinates work with international collaborators and clients; United States embassies and eonsulates in Russia, the People's Republic of China, Mongolia, South Korea, and Japan; and other USGS international-focused work in the region. Collaborating agencies and organizations include: Russian Academy of Sciences, Academy of Sciences of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), VNIIOkeangeologia and Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, Yakutian Academy of Sciences, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Mongolian Technical University, Changchun University of Earth Sciences, China, Ministry of Geology of China, Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, Geological Survey of Japan/AIST, University of Texas Arlington, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Michigan State University, and the University of Pittsburgh.

Map showing project areas for current project on northeast Asia, and prior project on the Russian Far East, Alaska, and Canadian Cordillera
Figure 1 - Regional geographic map showing project areas for current project on northeast Asia and prior project on the Russian Far East, Alaska, and Canadian Cordillera.

Products and activities

Products for the project will include:

  • Detailed mineral resource tables and location maps with data on approximately 1,800 lode deposits and placer districts, based on original, cited references
  • Regional geodynamics maps and detailed explanations that will provide the geologic setting for mineral deposits and metallogenic belts
  • Mineral deposit location and metallogenic belt maps
  • Metallogenic and tectonic interpretations, including a four-dimensional time-space model depicting the crustal origin and evolution of mineral deposits and host rocks of the region

The project is conducting focused studies on a variety of topics, including commodity production history of the region and a comparative study of sedimentary-hosted gold deposits in the People's Republic of China and the United States.

Commodity work: Scientists are synthesizing, analyzing, and interpreting data on past and present production, export and import statistics of selected commodities for Russia, Mongolia, the People's Republic of China, and the United States, with emphasis on barite, antimony, and cobalt, which our collaborating partners import to the United States. Fifteen additional commodities are being examined, grouped for publication purposes as precious metals, ferroalloy metals, nonferrous metals, and the chemical industrial and agricultural minerals.

Comparative study of sediment-hosted gold deposits in the People's Republic of China and the United States: This study is examining the geology, mineralogy, and geochemistry of the deposits in order to improve our understanding of the genesis of the deposits and our ability to assess their economic and environmental potential in both countries. To date, we have identified 165 sediment-hosted gold deposits (prospects) in southwestern and central People's Republic of China. Of these, at least 19 deposits are of substantial tonnage, making the People's Republic of China second only to the United States in exploiting these deposits.

For more information, contact:

Warren Nokleberg
345 Middlefield Road, Mail Stop 901
Menlo Park, CA 94025

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