Glossary of geoscience terms

Geoscience (also known as earth sciences and geology) is the study of the Earth and includes all non-living parts of our environment, and everything below the Earth's surface. Here are some common geoscience terms explained.

Term Definition
Banded ore: an ore consisting of alternating layers of ore minerals and gangue material and/or host rock.
Density: the ratio of an object's mass to its volume. (measured as grams per centimetre cubed: g cm3)
Disseminated ore: an ore consisting of fine ore mineral particles that are dispersed throughout the host rock.
Enrichment: the processes by which the relative amount of one constituent mineral or element contained within a rock is increased.
Epithermal: a term applied to relatively low-T (e.g. 100° C - 200° C) hydrothermal processes.
Fool's Gold: usually applied to fine-grained iron pyrite and chalcopyrite.
Gangue: part of a mineral deposit from which a metal or metals are not extracted. It is important to note that gangue minerals in one mineral deposit may be ore minerals in another (e.g. pyrite, baryte, fluorite). The most common gangue minerals are quartz, calcite, fluorite, siderite and calcite
Gossan: the leached and oxidised near-surface part of an ore deposit, usually composed of iron oxide/hydroxide and quartz.
Grade:  the metal content of an ore.
Host rock:  the body of rock surrounding an ore body.
Hypothermal:  a term applied to relatively high temperature (e.g. 300° C - 500° C) hydrothermal processes.
Limonite:  a common term used for a mixture of amorphous iron oxides and hydroxides.
Lode:  an old term for an ore deposit consisting of the ore itself along with the host rock.
Mass:
 
a measure of a body's resistance to a change in velocity. (measured in kilograms (kg)).
Massive ore:  an ore consisting of mostly ore minerals with very little gangue and/or host rock.
Matter: is anything that takes up space and has a measurable mass.
Mesothermal:  a term applied to intermediate temperature (e.g. 200° C - 300° C) hydrothermal processes.
Metallogenic Provinces:  are regions in which a series of mineral deposits possess common characteristics.
Mineral: a naturally occurring, inorganic solid with a definite chemical composition and a regular atomic structure. From this basis comes all of a mineral's physical properties.
Mineral Deposit:  any naturally occurring body of minerals which is wholly or partly of economic value. The value lies in the ore minerals and not the body of minerals as a whole.
 Mineralisation:  an anomalous concentration of an element of economic importance within a rock body. Mineralisation may be visible to the naked eye (as is normally the case with base metals such as copper, lead and zinc) or invisible (as is normally the case with gold). The term mineralisation is a geological one and has no economic implications.
 Mispickel:  an old name for the mineral arsenopyrite.
 Ore body:  The parts of a mineral deposit where the ore minerals are concentrated into an economically extractable mass.
 Ore mineral:  a mineral from which a useful metal (or non-metal such as fluorite) may be extracted profitably.
 Peacock Ore:  a popular term for the copper iron sulfide mineral, bornite.
 Pitchblende:  the most common ore of uranium, which is dominantly composed of the mineral uraninite.
 Primary ore:  ore minerals formed from either hot magmas or fluids.
 Reef:  a gold-bearing quartz vein.
Specific gravity: the density of a substance to that of water (weight divided by loss of weight in water).
 Tinstone:  a popular name for cassiterite, the main ore of tin.
 Vein:
 
 a tabular or sheet-like body of minerals that has intruded into joints or fissures in the rock.
 Wad:  a common term used for fine-grained mixtures of manganese oxide minerals.
 Wallrock:  the country rock (surrounding rock) of a vein or ore body.
 Weight:   the force with which an object of certain mass is attracted by gravity to the Earth or another body. (measured in Newtons : N)

 


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