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Staged formation of the supergiant Olympic Dam uranium deposit, Australia


Ehrig, K and Kamenetsky, VS and McPhie, J and Macmillan, E and Thompson, J and Kamenetsky, M and Mass, R, Staged formation of the supergiant Olympic Dam uranium deposit, Australia, Geology, 49, (11) pp. 1312-1316. ISSN 0091-7613 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2021 The Authors. Gold Open Access: This paper is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license. (

DOI: doi:10.1130/G48930.1


The origins of many supergiant ore deposits remain unresolved because the factors responsible for such extreme metal enrichments are not understood. One factor of critical importance is the timing of mineralization. However, timing information is commonly confounded by the difficulty of dating ore minerals. The world's largest uranium resource at Olympic Dam, South Australia, is exceptional because the high abundance of U allows U-Pb dating of ore minerals. The Olympic Dam U(-Cu-Au-Ag) ore deposit is hosted in ca. 1.59 Ga rocks, and the consensus has been that the supergiant deposit formed at the same time. We argue that, in fact, two stages of mineralization were involved. Paired in situ U-Pb and trace element analyses of texturally distinct uraninite populations show that the supergiant size and highest-U-grade zones are the result of U addition at 0.70.5 Ga, at least one billion years after initial formation. This conclusion is supported by a remarkable clustering of thousands of radiogenic 207Pb/206Pb model ages of Cu sulfide grains at this time. Upgrading of the original ca. 1.59 Ga U deposit to its present size at 0.70.5 Ga may have resulted from perturbation of regional fluid flow triggered by global climatic (deglaciation) and tectonic (breakup of Rodinia) events.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Olympic Dam, geochronology, uraninite
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Geology
Research Field:Geochronology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:Ehrig, K (Dr Kathy Ehrig)
UTAS Author:Kamenetsky, VS (Professor Vadim Kamenetsky)
UTAS Author:McPhie, J (Professor Jocelyn McPhie)
UTAS Author:Thompson, J (Mr Jay Thompson)
UTAS Author:Kamenetsky, M (Dr Maya Kamenetsky)
ID Code:147612
Year Published:2021
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP130100438)
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:CODES ARC
Deposited On:2021-11-10
Last Modified:2022-04-08
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