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Research • • •

Mineral deposits are far more poorly understood than most people acknowledge. The principal reasons are that (1) we have poor controls on time, and (2) the ore-forming systems—much larger than the deposits themselves—are crustal in scale, but critical processes operate at meter to micrometer scales. I focus economic geology tools on the key question of time and fold in my interest in tectonics to bridge the spatial scales of crustal to microscopic.

Within what is classically associated with economic geology, I study how hydrothermal systems evolve in time and space, how long they persist, and how they are related to the open-system behavior of magma chambers. I am most interested in porphyry deposits of Cu-Mo-Au-W-Sn, Carlin-type Au deposits, and epithermal Au-Ag deposits. My geochemical interests include systematics of alteration-mineralization processes and the origin of metal zoning. These areas have industry applications in exploration, development, and mining of deposits and government applications to mineral assessment and land use. I also am curious about the sources of effectiveness in organizations, the catalysts of innovation, and the development of leadership.

My research interests extend beyond traditional economic geology topics. I have a secondary interest in volcanology, primarily because of its link to igneous petrology and the generation of magmatic hydrothermal fluids, and a growing interest in fundamental aspects of structural geology. I have developed a keen interest in the nature of the processes themselves, such as the origin of highly extended domains and Cordilleran metamorphic core complexes. I collaborate on these projects with a variety of people in industry, the U. S. Geological Survey, and the Geosciences Department, particularly Mark Barton and George Gehrels.

My current research projects, including work with students and other collaborators, are

  • a regional reconstruction of the Laramide arc after restoration of Tertiary extension, with focus on the porphyry copper deposits at Sierrita, San Manuel, Ray, and the Globe-Miami district;
  • continuing work on the Henderson porphyry Mo deposit, Colorado;
  • reconstruction of the geology of northeastern Nevada and vicinity at 40 Ma to gain insight into the origin of Carlin-type gold deposits;
  • district- and regional-scale structural reconstruction and geology of the porphyry copper system and distal gold deposits the Robinson district, Nevada, which is a Cretaceous porphyry Cu-(Mo-Au) deposit that was dismembered by Eocene extension; and
  • development of a mineralogically-based geochemical classification of alteration types.

Research funding is secured from a variety of sources, such as minerals industry support of graduate students (some or all of tuition and fees, stipends, field and research expenses) and research projects, and grants from the National Science Foundation, the EDMAP program, and the U. S. Geological Survey through a cooperative project on Porphyry Copper Life Cycles.




Selected Publications

Seedorff, E., Dilles, J. H., Proffett, J. M., Jr., Einaudi, M. T., Zurcher, L., Stavast, W. J. A., Barton, M. D., and Johnson, D. A., submitted, Porphyry deposits: Characteristics and origin of hypogene features: 100th Anniversary Volume of Economic Geology.

Seedorff, E., and Barton, M. D., 2004, Enigmatic origin of Carlin-type deposits: An amagmatic solution?: SEG Newsletter, no. 59, p. 14-18.

Seedorff, E., and Einaudi, M. T., 2004a, Henderson porphyry molybdenum system, Colorado: I. Sequence and abundance of hydrothermal mineral assemblages, flow paths of evolving fluids, and evolutionary style: Economic Geology, v. 99, p. 3-37.

Seedorff, E., and Einaudi, M. T., 2004b, Henderson porphyry molybdenum system, Colorado: II. Decoupling of introduction and deposition of metals during geochemical evolution of hydrothermal fluids: Economic Geology, v. 99, p. 39-72.

Maher, D. J., Martin, A., Mauel, D., Bryan, D., Hubbs, S. A., and Seedorff, E., 2004, Mid-Tertiary synextensional sedimentation and structure in the northern Tortilla Mountains, Pinal County, Arizona: Arizona Geological Society Spring Field Trip Guidebook, 17 April 2004, 27 p.

Seedorff, E., and Maher, D. J., 2003, Multiple generations of Tertiary normal faults and related tilting near Hackberry Wash, Tortilla Mountains, Pinal County, Arizona [abs.]: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 35, no. 6, p. 348.

Barton, M., Seedorff, E., and Kamilli, R., 2003, Integrated approaches to mineralized geologic systems: The porphyry copper life cycles project [abs.]: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 35, no. 6, p. 138.

Seedorff, E., and Maher, D.J., 2002, Overview of the geology of the central Egan Range, in Ehni, W, and Faulds, J., eds., Detachment and attenuation in eastern Nevada and its application to petroleum exploration: Nevada Petroleum Society Guidebook, v. 17, p. 139-147. 

Maher, D., Seedorff, E., and Barton, M., 2002, A new look at middle Tertiary dismemberment and rotation of Laramide porphyry systems in southern Arizona [abs.], in Marsh, E.E., Goldfarb, R. J., and Day, W. C., eds., Global Exploration 2002: Integrated Methods for Discovery: Society of Economic Geologists, Symposium, April 2002, Abstracts of Oral and Poster Presentations, p. 121-122.

Gans, P. B., Seedorff, E., Fahey, P. L., Hasler, R. W., Maher, D. J., Jeanne, R. A., and Shaver, S. A., 2001, Rapid Eocene extension in the Robinson district, White Pine County, Nevada: Geology, v. 29, p. 475-478.

Gans, P. B., and Seedorff, E., eds., 2000, Cenozoic tectono-magmatic evolution of White Pine County, Nevada: Core complexes, Eocene-Oligocene volcanic centers, episodic extension and shortening, and disseminated gold deposits: Geological Society of Nevada Symposium 2000 Field Trip Guidebook No. 11, 166 p.

Seedorff, E., 2000a, Geology of the central Egan Range, in Gans, P. B., and Seedorff, E., eds., Cenozoic tectono-magmatic evolution of White Pine County, Nevada: Core complexes, Eocene-Oligocene volcanic centers, episodic extension and shortening, and disseminated gold deposits: Geological Society of Nevada Symposium 2000 Field Trip Guidebook No. 11, p. 129-139.

Seedorff, E., 2000b, Summary of the gold-silver deposits of the Robinson district, with descriptions of the Northwest Ruth, J. D. Hill, and Star Pointer deposits, in Gans, P. B., and Seedorff, E., eds., Cenozoic tectono-magmatic evolution of White Pine County, Nevada: Core complexes, Eocene-Oligocene volcanic centers, episodic extension and shortening, and disseminated gold deposits: Geological Society of Nevada Symposium 2000 Field Trip Guidebook No. 11, p. 141-166.

Seedorff, E., and Maher, D. J., 2000, Geology of the central Egan Range and Robinson (Ely) porphyry copper district, Nevada: Anatomy of an Eocene extensional accommodation zone [abs.]: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 32, no. 7, p. A232.

Maher, D. J., and Seedorff, E., 2000, Post-mineral structure of the Liberty area, Robinson (Ely) porphyry copper district, White Pine County, Nevada [abs.]: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 32, no. 7, p. A232-A233.

Barton, M. D., Seedorff, E., Ilchik, R. P., and Ghidotti, G., 1997, Contrasting siliceous replacement mineralization, east-central Nevada, in Vikre, P., Thompson, T. B., Bettles, K., Christensen, O., and Parratt, R., eds., Carlin-type gold deposits field conference: Society of Economic Geologists Guidebook v. 28, p. 131-134.

Seedorff, E., Hasler, R. W., and Fahey, P. L., 1997, Roots of gold deposits in the Ely porphyry copper system, Robinson district, Nevada: Gold deposits as district-scale piercing points [abs.]: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 29, no. 6, p. A358.

Seedorff, E., Hasler, R. W., Breitrick, R. A., Fahey, P. L., Jeanne, R. A., Shaver, S. A., Stubbe, P., Troutman, T. W., and Manske, S. L., 1996, Overview of the geology and ore deposits of the Robinson district, with emphasis on its post-mineral structure, in Green, S. M., and Struhsacker, E., eds., Geology and ore deposits of the American Cordillera: Geological Society of Nevada Field Trip Guidebook Compendium, 1995, Reno/Sparks, NV, p. 87-91.

Seedorff, E., ed., 1993, Robinson mining district: Geology and mineralization, Geol. Soc. Nevada Elko Chapter 1993 Summer Field Trip: Geological Society of Nevada, Special Publication 17, 69 p.

Seedorff, E., 1991a, Magmatism, extension, and ore deposits of Eocene to Holocene age in the Great Basin--Mutual effects and preliminary proposed genetic relationships, in Raines, G. L., Lisle, R. E., Schafer, R. W., and Wilkinson, W. H., eds., Geology and ore deposits of the Great Basin: Geological Society of Nevada, Symposium, Reno/Sparks, April 1990, Proceedings, v. 1, p. 133-178.

Seedorff, E., 1991b, Royston district, western Nevada: A Mesozoic porphyry copper system that was tilted and dismembered by Tertiary normal faults, in Raines, G. L., Lisle, R. E., Schafer, R. W., and Wilkinson, W. H., eds., Geology and ore deposits of the Great Basin: Geological Society of Nevada, Symposium, Reno/Sparks, April 1990, Proceedings, v. 1, p. 359-391.

Seedorff, E., Bailey, C. R. G., Kelley, D., and Parks, W., 1991, Buffalo Valley mine: A porphyry-related gold deposit, Lander County, Nevada, in Buffa, R., and Coyner, A. R., eds., Field Trip Guidebook Compendium, Geology and ore deposits of the Great Basin: Geological Society of Nevada, Symposium, Reno/Sparks, April 1990, Proceedings, v. 2, p. 969-987.

Seedorff, E., 1988, Cyclic development of hydrothermal mineral assemblages related to multiple intrusions at the Henderson porphyry molybdenum deposit, Colorado, in Taylor, R. P., and Strong, D. F., eds., Recent advances in the geology of granite-related mineral deposits: Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Special Volume 39, p. 367-393.

Seedorff, E., 1987, Henderson porphyry molybdenum deposit: Cyclic alteration-mineralization and geochemical evolution of topaz- and magnetite-bearing assemblages: Unpublished Ph. D. dissertation, Stanford University, Stanford, California, 432 p.

Seedorff, E., 1986, Topaz in hydrothermal ore deposits: Advanced argillic, sericitic, or potassic alteration? [abs.]: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 18, p. 744.

Seedorff, E., 1981, Geology of the Royston porphyry copper prospect, Nye and Esmeralda Counties, Nevada: Unpublished M. S. thesis, Stanford University, Stanford, California, 103 p.