is concerned with earth materials that can be utilized for economic and/or industrial purposes. These materials include precious and base metals, nonmetallic minerals, construction-grade stone, petroleum minerals, coal, and water. The term commonly refers to metallic mineral deposits and mineral resources. The techniques employed by other earth science disciplines (such as geochemistry
, and structural geology
) might all be used to understand, describe, and exploit an ore deposit.
Economic geology is studied and practiced by geologists; however it is of prime interest to investment bankers, stock analysts and other professions such as engineers, environmental scientists and conservationists because of the far-reaching impact which extractive industries have upon society, the economy and the environment.
Mineral resources are concentrations of minerals which are of note for current and future societal needs. Ore is classified as mineralization economically and technically feasible for extraction. Not all mineralization meets these criteria for various reasons. The specific categories of mineralization in an economic sense are:
- mineral occurrences or prospects which are of geological interest but may not be economic interest
- mineral resources, include those which are potentially economically and technically feasible, and those which are not
- ore reserves, must be economically and technically feasible to extract
Geologists are involved in the study of ore
deposits, which includes the study of ore genesis
and the processes within the Earth's crust which form and concentrate ore minerals into economically viable quantities.
Study of metallic ore deposits involves the use of structural geology, geochemistry, the study of metamorphism and its processes, as well as understanding metasomatism and other processes related to ore genesis.
Ore deposits are delineated by mineral exploration, which utilizes geochemical prospecting, drilling and resource estimation via geostatistics to quantify economic ore bodies. The ultimate aim of this process is mining.
Coal and petroleum geology
- ''See main articles Coal and Petroleum geology
The study of sedimentology is of prime importance to the delineation of economic reserves of petroleum and coal energy resources.