Researcher to Study How Economically Important Ore Deposits Are Formed

Adriana Potra
Russell Cothren

Adriana Potra

Mississippi Valley-type ore deposits, which are found worldwide, are highly valued for their economic potential. A University of Arkansas geologist is developing research that will improve our understanding of where and how the ores form, and possibly lead to discoveries of new deposits.

Adriana Potra, an associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, recently received a three-year, $397,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the processes that create the ores.

"There is an accepted understanding of how these ores form," Potra said. "However, the work we have been conducting at the U of A shows that it is not quite as simple as it has been thought. Recognition and proof that metal-rich black shales may be a major source of metals in ores may cause a paradigm shift of the basic concepts of how and where the MVT deposits form and may lead to identification of yet-to-be-found deposits. Our work will shed light on the processes involved in generating the MVT ores."

Potra and two assistant researchers will gather ore and rock samples in several states including Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Researchers at TRAIL, the Trace Element and Radiogenic Isotope Laboratory at the University of Arkansas, managed by Erik Pollock and operated by Barry Shaulis, will analyze the samples using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry to generate elemental and isotopic data.

MVT ores, essential sources of zinc and lead, are important in the United States as well as in developing countries that are utilizing their natural resources to create jobs and develop infrastructure. Resources of this type necessitate investigation since they are part of our effort to ensure societal development on a sustainable Earth.


Adriana Potra, associate professor
Department of Geosciences

Bob Whitby, feature writer
University Relations


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