Potential mineral resources of the Chilean offshore: an overview

Marcelo García, Jorge Correa, Víctor Maksaev, Brian Townley


The seabed included in the Chilean Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has proper conditions to originate and host different ore deposits, but its geological knowledge is scarce and scattered. The existent studies are very limited in terms of geochemical and mineralogical analyses. The most significant non-energetic mineral resources off Chile correspond to Fe-Mn nodules and crusts, phosphorite deposits, gold and titanium placer deposits and massive sulfide deposits. Fe-Mn nodule sites occur in abyssal plains and seamounts, and around volcanic islands, at depths from 2,890 to 4,332 m, and can contain important concentrations of Cu and Ni (up to 1.38% Cu+Ni) and Co (up to 0.53%). Co-rich Fe-Mn crust occurrences have been reported around the Rapanui and Salas y Gómez islands, with Cu+Ni contents up to 0.3%. Phosphorite sites occur in Holocene sedimentary beds of the continental shelf off Peru and northern Chile, with P2O5 average content of 22.6%. Gold placer deposits are found in beaches and channels of southern Chile and may extend offshore probably in submarine canyons. Titanium placer deposits have been evaluated in different beaches of Chile and could also be continued offshore. Platinum anomalies have been found in channels and bays of southernmost Chile. No samples of Volcanogenic Massive Sulfide (VMS) mineralization are known in the Chilean EEZ to date. However, samples of hydrothermal vents, with potential for polymetallic VMS type mineralization, have been recovered around the Rapanui Island, and several seamount and volcanic island chains indicate favorable conditions for formation and preservation of these ore-deposits. The available geological information on the seabed of the Chilean EEZ is insufficient to estimate the real potential of its non-energetic mineral resources.


Mineral deposits; Seabed; Chilean Exclusive Economic Zone

How to cite this article García, M.; Correa, J.; Maksaev, V.; Townley, B. 2020, Potential mineral resources of the Chilean offshore: an overview. Andean Geology 47 (1) : 1-13. .