Earthquakes Deposit Gold in Fault Zones

More than 80% of the world's gold deposits may have been formed via flash evaporation along fault zones...

Gold deposits may be created in a flash—literally. Along fault zones deep within Earth's crust, small cavities filled with fluids rich in dissolved substances such as gold and silicate minerals can expand suddenly to as much as 130,000 times their former size during a major earthquake, a new analysis suggests. In such circumstances, pressure drops accordingly, driving a process the scientists call flash evaporation. And when the pressure in the cavity suddenly drops, so does the solubility of minerals in the water there. 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 ... 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 ...


Tags: earthquakes, faults, flash evaporation, gold deposits

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My grandfather had a gold mine at Lucille, Idaho and my two uncles took a real interest in it; my dad never did. My uncles took all kinds of geology classes and took us cousins to many sites for minerals and gems. I didn't realize until just now that we always dug along fault lines! They must have known but I didn't realize these factors, even taking geology classes myself. 

Great post, Ruth. Thanks. Oh! I love all the learning opportunities that take place here. 

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