The MagmaChem Story


MagmaChem was founded as a research and exploration consulting company by Stan Keith and Monte Swan in 1983 and was built around the MagmaChem Classification of Igneous Rocks and Mineral Deposits that integrates to a global geotectonic layered-earth model (see Figure 1). This model was initially recognized by Stan Keith in 1976 during field mapping in Arizona and published in a 1978 paper in Geology Magazine. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the mineral industry funded the development and testing of the Magma-Metal Series Classification of Igneous Rocks and Mineral Deposits (see Figure 2). Research and development cost for the technology totaled $100 million during that period. The technology has dramatically reduced risk for MagmaChem’s clients directly contributing to the discovery of 21 economic gold-copper-silver deposits and a geothermal system on 3 continents worth more than $65 billion (see Table 1).

The ratio of money invested to the value of metal discovered is 1:2000. This work also produced an 8-layered mantle model. More than 160 papers have been published and 11 theses and dissertations have been sponsored. The entire spectrum of metals is included in the MagmaChem classification. For example, as economic interest shifts to elements such as lithium or gallium, the classification provides turn-key acquisition and exploration technology that lowers risk, cost, and startup time.

Beginning in 1985, the Magma-Metal Series classification was applied to oil and gas research and exploration, initially focusing on strato-tectonic analysis and dynamic basin modeling. But it wasn’t until 2001, after presenting a paper at AAPG in Denver, that Stan and Monte began to look seriously at the application of MagmaChem to petroleum exploration. This was when geologists from several major companies said that when they modeled super-giant oil and gas accumulations–when they do the accounting–the “books don’t balance.” Their geodynamic calculations indicated they were missing an important parameter and they suspected that something was going on beneath the basins.

Subsequently, MagmaChem recognized the importance of serpentinization which they believe is the missing parameter that “balances the books.”  This notion was incorporated into the serpentosphere concept in 2008. Since then nearly $15 million has been invested in understanding the relationship of serpentinization and hydrocarbons. This work has resulted in several new exploration tools successfully applied to 15 oil and gas exploration case histories.