Archaean mineral potential
The arc related Mesoarchean in the Nuuk region is prospective for precious metals associated with synvolcanic and/or epithermal mineralization, assuming that a modern plate tectonic analogy applies. The 3.07 island arc complex at Qussuk hosts gold occurrences. The gold occurrences at Sermiligaarsuk, South-West Greenland and Saqqaq, central West Greenland represent stratiform gold occurrences within volcanic-associated base metal sulphide facies, which may have formed in an arc related setting. During the period of accretion tectonics and metamorphism, hydrothermal fluids migrate into major structures resulting in the formation of orogenic gold deposits, which, world-wide, are typical of most Neoarchaean granite-greenstone belts. In Greenland is found in the Disko Bay and Nuuk regions.
Chemical sedimentation gave rise to Algoma type banded iron-formations (BIF), which, in Greenland, include three main BIF localities. The most famous of these is the Isukasia BIF in the ~3.8 Ga Isua supracrustal belt, northeast Nuuk region. The two other iron deposits are also large; the ~2.85 Ga Itilliarsuk BIF and the ~2.7 Ga Melville Bay BIF. The latter locality can be correlated with similar deposits on Baffin Island, Canada.
Within the Greenlandic granite-greenstone terranes the main mafic to ultramafic magmatic complexes carry major deposits such as chromitite (±PGE) in the layered anorthosite complexes (Qeqertarsuatsuaat) and in dunite lenses, gabbroic complexes with V-Ti bearing magnetite and ilmenite (e.g. Sinarsuk) and olivine in the peridotite-dunite complexes (e.g. Seqi).
Nickel-copper mineralized komatiitic and tholeiitic lava flows and sills are not yet known in Greenland in constrast to those from the Kambalda greenstone belt (Australia), the Abitibi greenstone belt (Canada), and the Kola greenstone belt (Baltic Shield, Russia). There is potential for such deposits in the reworked Archean rocks of the Nagssugtoqidian Orogen and the Ammassalik mobile belt and in the North Atlantic Craton, e.g. the supracrustal rocks in the Nuuk and Fiskefjord region. The Fiskenæsset anorthosite-gabbro complex is famous for corundum deposits with high quality gemstones including rubies and sapphires.
Palaeoproterozoic mineral potential
In the Nagssugtoqidian Orogen several 1950–1920 Ma supracrustal belts (e.g. at Naternaq and Ataneq) contain syngenetic massive sulphide occurrences; however none has a significant base metal content.
The 1920–1870 Ma Arfersiorfik and Sisimiut intrusive suites and equivalent rocks in Ammassalik are associated with Nagssugtoqidian convergence and the subduction of oceanic lithosphere prior to the main collision. No major mineral occurrences are known to be caused by this event in West Greenland, but copper-nickel occurrences are reported from the Ammassalik Intrusive complex in South-West Greenland. Accumulations of graphite are found in some of the pronounced Nordre Strømfjord shear zones as well as in the Tasiilaq region.
The Rinkian Orogen is, with the exception of the more southern parts, not as well investigated as the Nagssugtoqidian Orogen. It includes the SEDEX-type Black Angel deposit at Maarmorilik and sulphide-gold occurrences at Karrat Isfjord. The Karrat Group and the northern Rinkian Orogen may hold potential for orogenic gold and VMS occurrences. A REE deposit of unknown origin has also been identified in this region.
The juvenile Ketilidian Orogen is considered as a gold province with several gold prospects in different settings and the first gold mine in Greenland, the Nalunaq Gold Mine. The gold is related to the later stages of the batholith formation (1800–1770 Ma) and was precipitated in both supracrustal rocks and granitoids. South Greenland is also a known uranium province.
Iron-Oxide-Copper-Gold (IOCG) deposits have not hitherto been found in Greenland. In general IOCGs are hosted by cratonic or continental margin environments with extensional tectonics in which mantle underplating may be critical. South-East and South-West Greenland may be propspective for IOCG deposits, where the Ketilidian Orogen has been subducted beneath the North Atlantic Craton to the north e.g. Kobberminebugt along the edge of the craton.
Magmatic mineral potential
The Mesoproterozoic Gardar Province comprises three alkaline intrusive phases related to initial rifting. These carry large deposits of niobium, tantalum, zirconium (in eudialite), rare earth elements and cryolite. The North Atlantic alkaline province is believed to be a result of the early stages of opening of the Neoproterozoic Iapetus Ocean. Carbonatites of both Neoproterozic and Jurassic ages in West Greenland have a potential for niobium, tantalum, rare earth elements and apatite including some radioactive elements. The Neoproterozoic kimberlite dykes/sills in the West Greenland Kangerlussuaq region as well as the Neoproterozoic kimberlite dykes in the Maniitsoq region have promising diamond potential. The Skaergaard gabbroic intrusion contains a world class deposit with gold, palladium, platinum, vanadium, and ilmenite.
The potential for copper-nickel and platinum group elements of the Neogene basalts in West Greenland region is comparable with the Noril’sk Region. The Paleogene Ilkunnguaq (Disko) sediment-contaminated sulphide-rich mafic dyke may be a direct candidate for a Noril’sk type deposit.
Paleogene volcanic provinces in East and West Greenland comprise extensive epithermal vein and alteration systems in connection with rifted volcanic continental margins. In East Greenland, widespread hydrothermal veins of quartz-carbonate-cemented breccias occur in the Kangerlussuaq region hosted in granite, syenite, and diorite.
Tin is a commodity which is sporadically known from quartz veins and greisen zones of the Caledonian granites and pegmatites in the Stauning Alps, central East Greenland, and Ivittuut. However, there is potential for larger tin-mineralized systems associated with the Caledonian S-type granites in East Greenland.
Sedimentary mineral potential
Many of the known types of mineral occurrences in the sedimentary environment occur in Greenland. Examples are sediment-hosted copper in Neoproterozoic sandstones and Mesozoic clastic sediments; lead and zinc in shale/carbonate sequences are widespread; placer deposits and evaporite deposits. Lead-zinc veins in sediments occur in the Mesters Vig area of East Greenland, including the, now closed, Blyklippen Pb-Zn mine.
SEDEX lead-zinc type deposits in the shale sequences are found in the sedimentary basin in North Greenland. Carbonate-hosted lead-zinc (MVT) is known from platform carbonates both in North and East Greenland. Celestite and barium deposits are related to basins with evaporites in East Greenland. Many of the sedimentary basins lie in remote areas and are still frontier regions with respect to exploration. These areas have geological settings that are prospective for SEDEX and MVT type deposits.