Cordilleran Section - 111th Annual Meeting (11–13 May 2015)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:35 PM


MUNK, LeeAnn, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Alaska, 3101 Science Circle, Anchorage, AK 99508,

What do you know about lithium? Lithium is a critical and technologically important element because of its widespread use in Li-ion batteries that are currently the best form of energy storage for many applications including portable electronic devices and automobiles. Because of its unique geochemical properties lithium tends to concentrate in late stage hydrothermal/geothermal fluids and it also concentrates in low temperature fluids through evaporative concentration. Lithium is found in three main deposit types: 1) continental brines, 2) pegmatites, and 3) clay (hectorite). Lithium brines deliver about three-fourths of the world’s lithium supply and are therefore the most important deposit type from an economic standpoint. However, basic research on this ore deposit type has lagged behind that of more traditional ore deposits. The understanding of the origin of lithium brine deposits is best framed in terms of the geology, geochemistry and hydrogeology of the environments that host these deposits. Therefore, a model based on the intersection of these three disciplines has been developed. The majority of the information used for this model is derived from research efforts at two distinct end-member systems; the lithium-rich brine in Clayton Valley, Nevada, USA and that in the Salar de Atacama, Chile.