Tin Distribution Patterns

Author : K.F.G. Hosking
Publication : Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia
Page : 1 – 70
Volume Number : 11
Year : 1979
DOI : https://doi.org/10.7186/bgsm11197901

Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia, Volume 11, Dec, 1979, pp. 1 – 70

Tin Distribution Patterns


1B, Penlu, Tuckingmill, Camborne, Cornwall, TR14 8NL, ENGLAND. 

“This tale has seven variations and all cannot be told if time be short”.

[East African saying quoted by Holmes (1965, p. 165).]

Quote from speech of Sir Winston Churchill given in the House of Commons, London on 22nd Feb. 1939.


Abstract: The paper has been written with a view to providing a general background against which the specialised papers of the Symposium can be presented, and also because it is considered that the topic is of fundamental importance both to those concerned with the genesis of the tin deposits and to those whose prime interest is the search for and exploitation of such deposits.

At the risk of creating serious imbalances within the paper the writer has drawn heavily, whenever possible, on his own experiences, believing that by so doing he can make the most useful contribution.

Broadly speaking tin distribution patterns from the global scale to that of the thin and polished section are reviewed, and certain topics which are of particular interest at the present time, together with others that seem to warrant special attention, are high-lighted. More specifically, the major items dealt with are as follows:

I. The general tin distribution patterns in ordinary rocks, soils, biological material and natural waters.

II. The broad world and continental distribution patterns of the tin deposits.

The relationships between types of tin deposit and their age. The significance of tin deposits of distinctly different ages in the same province. World tin belts. Tin distribution patterns and plate tectonics.

III. Tin patterns within tin provinces

A. The tin-bearing species; further considerations.

B. The classification of the tin deposits.

C. Mineralogical aspects of the patterns of primary tin deposits.

D. Relationships between tin distribution patterns and igneous rocks.

E. Tin distribution patterns in the surface and near-surface environments in tin provinces.

The major conclusion that stems from this review is that we still have much to do before we arrive at a real understanding of the genesis and distribution of the tin deposits. We still do not have a plate tectonics model for any of the tin provinces that is generally acceptable, although great strides are being made in the right direction. We have still much to resolve concerning the granite/tin problem. The sources of the tin which occur in the primary deposits are still matters of dispute, as is the chemistry of the tin-transporting and tin-depositing systems. The list of defects could be enlarged.

Perhaps the most satisfying outcome is that we are presently much more aware of the problems that need to be tackled in order to make great strides towards our understanding of the tin deposits, and to be aware of the problem is to be half-way towards solving them.