Where do the Earth’s riches come from?

  • Exhibition Text

    • The Earth’s resources — everything from oil and gas to metal ores to fresh water — are the basis of modern civilization. One of the most important processes in the formation of these resources is the flow of fluids through rock. Flowing hot water dissolves metals and concentrates them in ore deposits. Decayed organic matter flows through cracks and pores in rocks to accumulate in oil reservoirs. Water flowing underground collects in porous rocks and forms aquifers, which are tapped for fresh water.

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  • For Educators

    • Topic: Earth Science

      Subtopic: Minerals and Resources

      Keywords: Petroleum reserves, Natural resources, Hydrogeology, ore deposits, groundwater

      Audience: General


Computer Model of Groundwater Flow

Scientists study groundwater flow, or the movement of freshwater through the Earth, in order to better understand and predict how and where freshwater flows and collects.

This video includes interviews with Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists Dr. Chick Keller, Dr. Elizabeth Keating, and Dr. Bruce Robinson.

 

This video was produced in 1999 for the David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth at the American Museum of Natural History, as part of a series about computer modeling at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Video credits:
American Museum of Natural History
University of California at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Dr. Charles F. Keller
Ballentyne Brumble Communications

In This Section

Anatomy of an ore deposit

Anatomy of an ore deposit

A major ore deposit that was formed by the flow of metal-laden seawater through hot rocks is at the Kidd Creek Mine in Ontario, Canada.

Kidd Creek Mine

Kidd Creek Mine

Near Timmins, Ontario, geologists discovered one of the world’s largest deposits of zinc, copper, lead, silver, and tin.

Ores from hot water

Ores from hot water

Driven by heat from bodies of molten rock in the crust, hot water circulates through cracks, dissolving minerals in the rocks through which it passes.

Rare minerals from pegmatites

Rare minerals from pegmatites

As molten granite crystallizes, the melt that remains becomes enriched in water and rare elements such as boron, lithium, tantalum, and niobium.