Project title: 3D Modelling of the Irish Carboniferous Basins and Associated Zn-Pb Deposits
Researcher: Dr Roisin Kyne
The Irish Zn-Pb ore field is world-renowned for the nature of its associated mineralization and for the structural and stratigraphic control on the localization of that mineralization (Hitzman et al., 1998; Fusciardi, et al., 2004). Ireland is a major player in the raw minerals industry, representing the largest zinc producer and second-largest lead producer in Europe (Indecon, 2003). Since the December 2015 closure of one of Ireland’s two Zn-Pb producing mines (Lisheen), the importance of mineral exploration has become critical. However, the discovery and management of raw materials in Ireland has become increasingly difficult with likely targets (based on current 2D models) occurring at greater depths within the subsurface.
Structures and tectonics play a vital role in the formation of economic deposits particularly when host lithologies either exhibit low primary porosity and/or permeability or are bounded by impermeable units which impede fluid flow. By acting as pathways and conduits for flow, structures help focus ore-forming fluids into areas where they can precipitate mineralization. The significance of faults on the formation of Irish-type Zn-Pb deposits has long been recognized, and our study develops on previous work by providing better constraints on the 3D geometries and kinematics of these fault systems and their specific controls on mineralization (Andrew, 1986, Hitzman et al., 1998; Fusciardi, et al., 2004). Building on the existing national database retained by the GSI and utilising data and current 3D models donated by industry partners, the 3D Ireland project is addressing current industry problems relating to efficient/effective target identification by developing refined 3D geological models for the Irish Carboniferous and associated Zn-Pb deposits. This research will underpin both future exploration efforts and associated research projects.