Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5070–L

Deposit Model for Heavy-Mineral Sands in Coastal Environments

By Bradley S. Van Gosen, David L. Fey, Anjana K. Shah, Philip L. Verplanck, and Todd M. Hoefen

Chapter L of
Mineral Deposit Models for Resource Assessment

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (15.3 MB)Abstract

This report provides a descriptive model of heavy-mineral sands, which are sedimentary deposits of dense minerals that accumulate with sand, silt, and clay in coastal environments, locally forming economic concentrations of the heavy minerĀ­als. This deposit type is the main source of titanium feedstock for the titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigments industry, through recovery of the minerals ilmenite (Fe2+TiO3), rutile (TiO2), and leucoxene (an alteration product of ilmenite). Heavy-mineral sands are also the principal source of zircon (ZrSiO4) and its zirconium oxide; zircon is often recovered as a coproduct. Other heavy minerals produced as coproducts from some deposits are sillimanite/kyanite, staurolite, monazite, and garnet. Monazite [(Ce,La,Nd,Th)PO4] is a source of rare earth elements as well as thorium, which is used in thorium-based nuclear power under development in India and elsewhere.

This report is intended to provide an overview of the principal geological, mineral resource, and environmental characteristics of the deposit type commonly referred to as heavy-mineral sands. The report is part of an effort by the U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Resources Program to update existing mineral deposit models and develop new descriptive models as needed.

First posted September 17, 2014

For additional information contact:
Director, Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
Box 25046, Mail Stop 973
Denver, CO 80225

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). For best results viewing and printing PDF documents, it is recommended that you download the documents to your computer and open them with Adobe Reader. PDF documents opened from your browser may not display or print as intended. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge. More information about viewing, downloading, and printing report files can be found here.

Suggested citation:

Van Gosen, B.S., Fey, D.L., Shah, A.K., Verplanck, P.L., and Hoefen, T.M., 2014, Deposit model for heavy-mineral sands in coastal environments: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5070–L, 51 p.,

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)




Deposit Type and Associated Commodities

Example Deposits

Historical Evolution of Descriptive and Genetic Knowledge and Concepts

Regional Environment

Physical Description of Deposit

Geophysical Characteristics

Hypogene Ore Characteristics

Hydrothermal Alteration

Supergene Ore Characteristics

Weathering Processes

Geochemical Characteristics

Petrology of Associated Igneous Rocks

Petrology of Associated Sedimentary Rocks

Petrology of Associated Metamorphic Rocks

Exploration and Resource Assessment Guides

Geoenvironmental Features and Effects of Mining

Knowledge Gaps and Future Research Directions



Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Contact USGS
Page Last Modified: Wednesday, September 17, 2014, 11:13:57 AM