GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 255-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


GOLDEN, Joshua J.1, PIRES, Alexander J.1, HAZEN, Robert M.2, DOWNS, Robert T.1, RALPH, Jolyon3 and MEYER, Michael2, (1)Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, (2)Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington, DC 20015, (3), Surrey, CR4 4FD, United Kingdom,

Mineral distributions in space and time provide insight into changing geologic conditions resulting from Earth’s dynamic processes. A variety of factors influence trends in changing geologic conditions that lead to mineral formation and diversification. In addition to the spatial/temporal scale, geologic factors include tectonic setting, redox conditions, formation depth, geologic strata and relationships, source of mineralization, bulk composition (depending on scale), differentiation processes, and secondary alteration of existing mineralogy. Correlating mineral ages with these factors can provide insights into the controls of mineralization as well as the changing conditions that lead to diversification on a variety of scales.

The Mineral Evolution Database (MED), found at, is being built to address these factors by integrating mineral locality data from the crowd-sourced, which contains 692,391 mineral records (mineral-locality pairs) from 272,483 localities (as of Feb. 15, 2016), with the official International Mineralogical Association (IMA) list of approved mineral species, which contains 5,141 approved species (as of July 11, 2016), and age data from geologic literature. As of July 11, 2016 the MED contains 6,353 unique ages for 3,669 directly dated localities, documenting a total of 136,630 mineral-locality pairs.

Our goal is to obtain ages for mineral species from specific localities by finding the appropriate age measurements and interpretations such as the age of deposit formation, specific element concentration, and specific mineral formation. When no age is found for a specific locality, then by using a nearby locality with similar genetic controls it is often possible to determine a reasonable estimate. Similarly, an age calculated from a single mineral can be used as a proxy for many other minerals at the same locality. The MED can then be the basis of multidimensional analysis of age, mineral and/or locality, and any one or more of the geological factors that affect the formation of mineral species. We use the MED to examine mineral diversity through time. Work is ongoing to elucidate Earth’s mineral diversity and evolution and provide insights into the controls on diversification by examining the effects of other geologic factors.