The Kupferschiefer is a copper-, polymetallic-, hydrocarbon-bearing black shale of the lowermost Zechstein Group of Permo-Triassic age (252 Ma) in Germany and Poland. It is usually 1 m thick and underlies 600,000 km2, extending from Great Britain to Belarus for a distance of over 1500 km. At a district scale, copper has been mined for over 800 years since its discovery circa 1200 A.D. Mineralogical, chemical, and geological analyses of the combined Zechstein-Kupferschiefer show strong chemical and paragenetic relationships between the Zechstein salines, Kupferschiefer, and Weissliegend sandstones that lead to a broader, more unified, genetically linked model related to deep-sourced, hot, hydrothermal, mud-brine volcanism. The overall Zechstein-Kupferschiefer chemical stratigraphy suggests density-/composition-driven fractionation of deep-sourced, metal-rich, alkali-rich, silica-aluminum-rich, halogen-rich, high-density brines. The ultimate brine source is interpreted to be serpentinized peridotite in the lower crust near the Moho transition to the mantle. Dehydration of the serpentinite source to talc (steatization) by mantle heat during failed, intra-continental rifting of the Pangaea supercontinent at the end of Permian time released vast amounts of element-laden, high-density brines into deep-basement fractures, depositing them into and above the Rotliegend Sandstone in the shallow Kupferschiefer Sea, which is analogous to the modern northern Caspian Sea.
Part of the book: Contributions to Mineralization