GEOL337-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020

Geothermal and Ore Exploration

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 February 2020
End Date: Sunday, 21 June 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 28 February 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 29 May 2020


Nature and origin of metallic ore deposits and how to find them, with emphasis on geophysical and geochemical exploration. Mining methods and mining geology.

Geothermal (or hydrothermal) processes are not only important in the extraction of heat as an energy resource, but they are responsible for the genesis and formation of an important class of economic ore bodies. Geothermal and Ore-forming systems require heat, fluids and permeability for the fluids to transport the heat and solutes (i.e. metals). Both Energy and Mineral Exploration encompasses many of those areas of geology within which many university graduates find employment, and specialist postgraduate courses are recommended for those wishing to pursue professional careers in these disciplines. Geochemical and geophysical exploration techniques are widely used in locating and characterising geothermal reservoirs and ore bodies by identifying chemical and/or physical anomalies that justify follow-up by drilling and other sampling or testing methods. Modern exploration is typically interdisciplinary (i.e. geology, geochemistry, geophysics), concept-oriented and model-driven, whether the buried resource is obvious from the surface geology or hidden. In addition, these conceptual models are paramount to the management (sustainable, economical, environmental) of the resources. In this course, you will learn about the geologic processes involved in forming geothermal and ore resources, as well as the techniques used to define, characterise and explore the resource.

In the first 6 weeks of the course, we discuss hydrothermal geology with links to geothermal systems and exploration, and the processes that lead to the genesis and formation of metallic ores. In the following 6 weeks, we focus on the formation of ore deposits, geochemical and geophysical exploration techniques, and conclude with a brief review of coal macerals and their identification.  Laboratory assignments will be assessed throughout the course and total 60% of the course grade.

Learning Outcomes

  • Goal of the Course
    GEOL337 introduces students to the fundamentals of geothermal and ore-forming process and their exploration.

    Learning Outcomes
    Students successfully completing this course will be able to:
  • define and explain Geothermal Energy
  • explain the geologic controls of geothermal systems
  • explain permeability and its role in mass and heat transfer in the crust
  • draw geothermal conceptual models from well data and field observations
  • understand how geothermal energy is created
  • understand how hydrothermal processes are related to ore genesis
  • can identify and classify ore minerals and textures under the microscope and how they formed
  • describe selected ore deposit types in detail and their exploration requirements
  • selection of geochemical exploration and geochemical data presentation/analysis methods

    Summary of the Course Content
    The topics coved by this course are:
    Topic 1 Geothermal Systems (Darren Gravley, 12 lectures)
  • Geothermal energy
  • Geothermal systems: geologic context
  • Magmatic-hydrothermal processes
  • Permeability: scales and controls
  • Hydrothermal alteration
  • Geothermal system mass and heat transfer
  • Conceptual geothermal model
  • Geothermal production and utilization
  • Geothermal Exploration
  • Exploring for blind geothermal systems
  • Amagmatic geothermal systems
  • Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS)

    Topic 2 Ore-forming Processes and Exploration (David Bell, 12 lectures)
  • Introduction to ore geology and deposits
  • Ore fluid sources and hydrothermal deposits
  • Ore fluid migration and deposition
  • Porphyry copper deposits and examples
  • Epithermal gold-silver systems and examples
  • Metamorphic hydrothermal systems and deposits
  • Weathering and supergene enrichment of ores
  • Geochemical and geophysical exploration techniques
  • Geochemical data analysis and presentation
  • Coal & oil shale deposits and rank changes/uses
  • Coal macerals and coal petrography
  • Current and future energy resources
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


GEOL242 and any 15 points at 200 level from GEOL

Timetable Note

Lectures: 2 lectures per week.
Laboratories: 1 x 2.5 hour lab per week (unless ‘no lab’ is indicated), 1 half day field trip

Week # Week starting Lectures Lecturer Labs
8 17th Feb Geothermal Energy DG No lab
9 24th Feb Geothermal Systems and Settings DG No lab; Half day Field Trip (Saturday, 29th of February)
10 2nd March Hydrothermal processes & Permeability   DG Permeability 1
11 9th March Hydrothermal Alteration & Permeability DG Permeability 2
12 16th March Geothermal Exploration DG Geothermal Conceptual Model
13 23rd March Geothermal Production and MGMT DG Geothermal Exploration
14 30th March Ore-forming processes/deposits DHB Ore petrography 1
Semester Break
18 27th April Ore-forming processes/deposits DHB Ore petrography 2
19 4th May Ore-forming processes /deposits DHB Ore petrography 3
20 11th May Weathering of ores/exploration DHB Tui mine ore genesis 1
21 18th May Ore exploration/coal deposits DHB Tui mine ore genesis 2
22 25th May Coal macerals/future energy sources DHB Coal petrography

Course Coordinator

Darren Gravley


David Bell


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Laboratory assessment - Geothermal 30% Laboratory assessment - Geothermal
Laboratory assessment - Ore 30% Laboratory assessment - Ore
Final examination 40% Final examination

Geothermal  -  30%
Ore  -  30%

Date TBA in mid-year exam period  -  40%

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Boden, David R; Geologic fundamentals of geothermal energy ; CRC Press, 2017.

Evans, Anthony M; Ore Geology and Industrial Minerals : An Introduction ; 3rd ed; John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2009.

Evans, Anthony M. , Barrett, William L; Introduction to mineral exploration ; Blackwell Science, 1995.

Moon, Charles. et al; Introduction to mineral exploration ; 2nd ed; John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2009.

Robb, L. J; Introduction to ore-forming processes ; Blackwell Pub, 2005.

Rowland, J.V. and Simmons, S.F; Hydrolic, magmatic and tectonic controls on hydrothermal flow, Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand ; Economic Geology, 2012.

Course links

Library portal


GEOL242 is a required pre-requisite, along with 15 points from GEOL243-245.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $900.00

International fee $4,250.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Earth and Environment .

All GEOL337 Occurrences

  • GEOL337-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020