Courses & Units

Ore Deposit Geochemistry, Hydrology and Geochronology KEA709


Offered every second year


This unit gives students an up-to date review of the theory and practice of geochemistry, hydrology and geochronology as applied in mineral exploration, environmental management and studies of ore deposit genesis. The unit provides a comprehensive introduction to the chemistry of surface waters and hydrothermal systems including metal solubility, mineral stability, and the use of stable and radiogenic isotopes as tracers of hydrothermal processes. Physical controls on hydrothermal fluid -flow and controls on fluid chemistry, which influence the types and locations of ore deposits are addressed, as are the geochemistry, metallogenesis and ore-forming potential of magmatic arcs. Various methods of dating mineralising events are explained. Advanced techniques for ore deposit footprint, vectoring and fertility studies are also introduced. The major assessment task for this unit requires students to provide a pyrite bearing sample for analysis. Prior to the short course, a polished laser ablation mount is prepared for each sample, reflected light optical microscopy images acquired and a pyrite grain (or grain aggregate) selected for laser ablation ICPMS analysis. During the short course, the resultant LA-ICPMS trace element/lead isotopic maps of the pyrite are interpreted in terms of ore deposit type, location within the alteration halo, conditions of pyrite deposition and hydrothermal fluid chemistry. Ore Deposit Geochemistry, Hydrology and Geochronology is available as both an OPTIONAL unit in the Mastery block of the Master of Economic Geology degree or as one of three CORE OPTION capstone coursework units (two selected) that may be taken during the Research/Project block of the degree. This unit involves 155 hours of assessment, including 70 hours outside of the intensive teaching period/s. The total volume of student learning for the unit is ~230 hours.


Unit name Ore Deposit Geochemistry, Hydrology and Geochronology
Unit code KEA709
Credit points 25
College/School College of Sciences and Engineering
School of Natural Sciences
Discipline Earth Sciences
Coordinator Professor David Cooke
Delivered By
Level Postgraduate


Location Study period Attendance options Available to
Online Winter school Off-Campus International Domestic


International students
Domestic students

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Key Dates

Study Period Start date Census date WW date End date
Winter school 29/5/2023 6/6/2023 19/6/2023 9/7/2023

* The Final WW Date is the final date from which you can withdraw from the unit without academic penalty, however you will still incur a financial liability (refer to How do I withdraw from a unit? for more information).

Unit census dates currently displaying for 2023 are indicative and subject to change. Finalised census dates for 2023 will be available from the 1st October 2022. Note census date cutoff is 11.59pm AEST (AEDT during October to March).

About Census Dates

Learning Outcomes

  • Combine geochemical and petrological data to interpret hydrothermal ore deposits formed in different tectonic settings
  • Explain physical controls on fluid flow in hydrothermal systems and their implications for mineral exploration strategies.
  • Relate chemical controls on metal solubility (transport and deposition) in crustal fluids to mineral exploration strategies.
  • Select samples and laboratory methods to evaluate the tectonic setting, age and/or chemical footprint of hydrothermal ore deposits
  • Communicate geochemical and hydrological concepts, or research findings, to an audience of industry or academic peers
Field of Education Commencing Student Contribution 1 Grandfathered Student Contribution 1 Approved Pathway Course Student Contribution 2 Domestic Full Fee
not applicable

1 Please refer to more information on student contribution amounts.
2 Please refer to more information on eligibility and Approved Pathway courses.
3 Please refer to more information on eligibility for HECS-HELP.
4 Please refer to more information on eligibility for FEE-HELP.

If you have any questions in relation to the fees, please contact UConnect or more information is available on StudyAssist.

Please note: international students should refer to What is an indicative Fee? to get an indicative course cost.


Teaching Pattern

This unit involves 60 hrs of online lectures and 30 hrs of practical classes (live via Zoom) delivered in two week-long intensive bocks (Part 1: 6 days, part 2: 5 days). A further 55 hrs of work on assessment tasks is completed over six weeks prior to and between the intensive study blocks.

AssessmentAssessment Task 3. Oral presentation (15%)|Assessment Task 4. Practical Exercises (40%)|Assessment Task 5. Mass-balance Assignment (15%)|Assessment Task 1. Pyrite sample video post (5%)|Assessment Task 6. Ore Halo Exploration Assignment (10%)|Assessment Task 2. Pyrite Project (15%)
TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable



Required readings will be listed in the unit outline prior to the start of classes.

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