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89

12.

FIELD SURVEY PROCEDURES

12.1.

General

Effective sampling of any surficial media requires well-trained personnel capabl


e
of recognizing and describing the correct sample material and the sample
site
characteristics. Samplers should be able to recognize and, if possible, avoid situatio
ns
where contamination from human activity or changes in the natural physicochemi
cal
conditions can produce spurious or unusual results, in most situations, these sampli
ng
duties can be undertaken by trained technical personnel under the supervision
of a
geochemist or geologist with adequate geochemical exploration experience. In som
e
surveys (e.g. where identification of the correct sample material Is critical,
as in
biogeochemical or glacial till sampling programs), it is prudent to employ qua
lified
specialists (e.g. botanists and Quaternary geologists) to both conduct orientation surveys
and instruct and supervise the sampling teams.
Sampling tools

according to the

medium

and the field

situation.
Noncontaminating equipment is essential and care should be exercised in not only choosi
ng
non-contaminating steels for shovels, trowels, augers etc. but also in ensuring that
any
associated lubricants, adhesives, welds, and solders will not cause problems.
Leaded
gas can sometimes constitute a potential problem in field vehicles when samples
are
transported in proximity to leaking containers. This awareness of geochemical cleanliness
extends to the dress of the sampler who should avoid wearing metal buckles, rings, e
tc.
and handling coins which might lead to contamination by chipping or transfer of metal
on
fingers.
vary

The same caution is necessary in the choice of sample containers.

Kraft p

aper
(with non-contaminating water-proof glue and closures), olefin, and plastic bag containers
of appropriate size are frequently used. Kraft and olefin allow samples to be dried witho
ut

transfer. Plastic bags are commonly used for larger samples. More rigid polypropyle
ne
and special glass bottles can be utilized in water sampling and a variety of sam
pling
devices, many of them patented, are available for the sampling of gases and particulate
s.
It is strongly

advised that all samples

be allocated simple

unique sequ

ential
numbers which at least include a project (or regional office) designator prefix a
nd a
sample type designator suffix. These are best provided by pre-numbered Assa
y/
Geochemical Sample Tag Books. The potential for error and misunderstanding is thereb
y
minimized and problems in subsequent data management and interpretation are avoided
.
Some form of coordinates should also be assigned to every sample in order to a
ssist
sample location and computer plotting of sample locations and analytical data. In t
he
case of widely spaced regional reconnaissance samples (e.g. stream sediment) the
Universal Transverse Mercator (U.T.M.) grid location of each site can be determined using
topographic base maps of suitable scale or possibly, a locator instrument (e.g. Magellan)
.

90

In more detailed studies tine U.T.M. grid can be used to define the area boundaries, whils
t
individual samples are located by reference to a local grid.

12.2.

Sample Media

Some discussion of the potential role of available geochemical sample media in the
exploration sequence has been provided in previous chapters. Media selection will o
f
course be decided on the basis of orientation studies which will in turn be influenced
by
the local environment as well the nature of the exploration problem. Reiterating earli
er
statements concerning the applicability of the more widely used sample medi
a in
reconnaissance studies, the methods used might include:
(i)
(ii)
(iii)

drainage surveys: sampling stream or lake sediment, stream or lake water,


groundwater, etc.;
glacial deposit surveys: sampling of till, etc.;
rock surveys;

(iv)
g

soil surveys: this approach is becoming increasingly popular at samplin


densities as low as 1 sample per 25 km.

Follow-up studies of promising leads detected in the reconnaissance phase might involve:
dia

(i)

closer spaced sampling of one or more of the above mentioned me

(ii)
(iii)
Ov)
(v)
(vi)
(vii)

and/or;
stream bank (residual soil or colluvium) surveys;
biogeochemical surveys;
soil gas surveys, or more rarely;
geobotanical surveys;
particulate surveys, and
microorganism surveys.

Exotic techniques such as surveys based on animal tissue sampling, are curre
ntly
primarily of academic interest, and unlikely to provide solutions to actual pract
ical
exploration problems.

12.2.1,

Rocks

Geochemical exploration surveys based on systematic bedrock sampling are in


es sence an extension of routine prospecting based on the collection and analysis
of
relatively small numbers of "specimens" or rock chip "samples" from potentially interesting
bedrock exposures. However, the former aim to achieve consistently representativ
e
material, and are generally capable of detecting and interpreting far more s
ubtle
expressions of the possible presence of mineralization than the "character" sampli
ng
normally carried out in prospecting. Unless exposure is exceptionally good, sample
91
spacing in geochemical rock surveys tends to be less consistent than that achieved in,
say, soil surveys.
As with other types of geochemical surveys, the sampling procedures and the
sample material collected in geochemical rock surveys should be standardized as much
as possible. However, considering the large number of variables that can be introduced
by the processes of weathering and oxidation, the ideal of collecting similarly weathered
material is sometimes impractical. Nevertheless, the geologist or the geochemist
conducting the survey should ensure that individual samples at ail sample sites are
essentially comparable and that observed variations in weathering intensity are properly
-ecorded for interpretation purposes.
Geochemical rock samplino necessarily must take into account the geological
environment and the type of mineral deposit of interest to the explorer. The precise scale
of sampling necessary for detection of svnaenetic and epiaenetic patterns will be

determined by orientation surveys (see Chapter 8). Detection of syngenetic patterns may
necessitate the regional sampling of individual plutons or more detailed sampling of
specific parts of an exposed stratigraphic section. The latter patterns will require a
different approach. Surveys designed to detect leakage anomalies will focus on
systematic sampling of fault or fracture zones and, possibly, bedding structures. In
contrast, the preferred geochemical rock sample material for the detection of diffusion
naloes is likely to be unfractured and the scale of sampling much more detailed. In all
instances, analysis of geochemical rock survey material has the potential of delimiting
dispersion patterns beyond visible alteration associated with mineralization. Table 12.1
summarizes the elements determined and the sampling densities used in past exploration
programs for a variety of mineralization types.
A good example of a regional approach capable of discriminating between
productive and barren intrusions is provided by the work of Garrett (1973), which was
based on whole rock analysis of samples from felsic intrusions in the Yukon Territory,
Canada (Fig. 12.1). Using a variety of techniques, including residual scores from a
multivariate statistical analytical procedure (principal component analysis), comparisons
of metal concentrations (Fig. 12.2) and degree of skewness of frequency distributions, he
was able to demonstrate that most plutons associated with mineralization could be
recognized, and certain additional plutons with no known mineralization merited further
nvestigation. In strong contrast the work of Church et al (1976) demonstrates the
potential value of district scale geochemical rock sampling programs in the detection of
vein and replacement deposits. Their case history study was carried out in an area of
British Columbia, Canada which includes the Mesozoic volcanic sequence hosted Sam
Goosly replacement (?) massive sulfide deposit, and the Upper Cretaceous andesitic
volcanic sequence hosted Brandina vein type occurrences (Fig. 12.3). Both types of
mineralization are reflected by large As and somewhat more limited Cu anomalies (Fig.
12.4).

Scale

Target

Regional

identification of
productive
massive
plutons
sulphides
vein and

Elements___Sampling density

min. 30/intrusion
but see Appendix
3, 0.2-5/krT?

K, Rb. Sr, Ba, U,


Na", Ca*
Fe. Na, Mg, Mn,
Na,
(K), (Ca), (Ba)
As. Sb, Ta. Bi*

e.g. Cu,
Au, Ag

K.

Cu. Zn. Mo. S

2-30/krT

Cu,

150-200 rn Interval

e.g. Cu, Pb, Zn,


Sn. W. Mo, U. Ni
Cu. Zn. (Pb)
Pb, Zn

l-10/kn

replacement
Local and Mine

porphyry
massive sulphides

Ca, Rb,

Mn, (MG)
Fe, Mn.

Sr.
Na,

K.

Pb. Zn. (S)

vein and
replacetnent

TABLE 12.1

Ca,
Mg, (Rb). (Sr)
(hO).

e.g. Cu,
Aii, Ag

5-10 m interval

Pb, 2n.

Summary of elements to be dstermined and surface sampling density for different


targets in regional. and local and mine scale exploration. Elements in parentheses
have been shown to be useful in some cases but have uncertain status; elements with
asterisk are expected to be useful but there are little data. Si should be determined
in all cases where petrological variation is expected to cause variation to the content
46 4IO
of other elements. (Govett,
41983)C4a 5|92i

93

138'

I34<

130'

3
64=

6435

36

38

21
4r090
O T)

2 JcT
025

I90)

-2'

62'

138'
_J_

FIG 12.1

134=

130=

Cretaceous granitoids in the Canadian Cordillera sampied by Garrett, 1973. Black circles
are granitoids containing mineralization of the following type: 2 = Ag-Pb: 3 = Cu-Sb; 4=Au;
5 = Au-Pb; 6=Au: 8 = Pb-Zn; 9=W, Au-Pb; 11=no data; 12 = Zn-Ag-Pb; 13 = W; 16 = Cu-W:
17 = Cu-Zn; 21 =W: 22 = Cu-Zn-W; 25 = Sb (Govett, 1983)


*
taCeous
- jhost
rocks A(Up.Cf

-
ralization

....
(ocation
e
f


ir lH I a

Li

C r, T n

'

7*
*

1y

t-

.
source rocks
cover rocks
.i*
(FDrtPHf, Mionn}
fF-

/ .1**'
'

---

IkJadina*.
7 '

'.'i

FIG 12.3

FIG 12.2

94

V"-.'

X'fsv.-.

4
km

1
1

mine

- sampl

5.

-/
%

1~

'

X
-/

8
y

,?

Simplified ge o l o g y, location of Bradina and Sam G o o s i y mineral d e p o s i t s , a n d location

Distribution of mean Zn content in granitoids in northwest Territories (iM.W.T.) and Yukon


Territory (Y.T.), Canada. (Govett, 1983)

of rock s a m p l e s , G o o s l y- O w e n Lake area, British Col umbia, Canada, (Govett, 1983)

FIG

12.4

Distribution of As and C u in r o ck s around t h e Br adi na and Sam G o o s i y d e p o s i t s , British


Columbia, Canada. (Govett, 1983)

95
Additional indications of some possible roles rock geochemistry might play in
exploration are provided by the discussion in Chapter 8 of the large primary haloes
associated with various types of mineralization. Many of these haloes should be readily
detectable by systematic geochemical rock sampling, if there is sufficient outcrop. The
hot spring-type gold mineralization (i.e. Round Mountain - Figure 8.11) and the sediment
hosted fine disseminated gold deposit (Pinson - Figure 8.12) examples are of particular
relevance in terms of current exploration priorities. The extensive nature of the
geochemical haloes commonly associated with sediment hosted fine disseminated gold
deposits are also illustrated by data from the Carlin District. Nevada, which was obtained
by Evans and Peterson (1986) in the course of a routine geological mapping program
(Figs. 12.5a, 12.5b and 12.5c). They provide further evidence of the potential value of
systematic geochemical rock surveys in exploration for this type of mineralization.
An

interesting review of the application of bedrock geochemistry in mineral


exploration is provided by Govett (1989). A more recent discussion of the subject by
Franklin and Duke (1991) is primarily concerned with Canada, but their conclusions
regarding the need for close geological control and the potential value of parallel
mineralogical studies are of universal relevance.
Despite the potential advantages of rocks as sample media in many types of
geochemical exploration program, their use is often precluded by a lack of sufficient
exposure and/or a need for composite samples representing substantial areas. Hence

attention must frequently be concentrated on their surficlal derivative products (e.g. soils,
stream sediments, etc.).
C

(0

U
1a

V)
re
0)

re

CO
o
(0
>
<v
Z

w
b
_w
0

XI

E
>1
U)
0
"5)
_o
0
0)
D1

CO

<D

>

_o
re
E
o
c
re

o
~

"a

0)

o
H"C

=
tn
~

TO
U

O
O

n
tn
evj
(O
Oi

(3

01
Taitingis pond

S;

O
c

a
"D D)
fl
U>
<D LL UJ
(B
re
(U
i_
c
0)
u
2 I
c
o

w
u
E

CO

+J
U

o
OJ
vo
c
0

Emm
W "
CO 3
c .s'

(9

Qi

a.
X Q>
0) Q.

O
i L:.

X
o

LO

a.

<13 HiS
t_
CO

CN

4- IS
0 CO
01
C T
0
c
re 0
c 01

_re

c
0)

k>
n

oi
c

O
"

re

re
3
o

0)

a>

o
o
O)

01

Mine du mp at
Cariin mine

o
Qaf
Alluvium

- QU ATER N ARY
Landslide deposits

Qf
Fan glome ra te

Ts
Siltsone
Pliocene
and (or)
MIoccnc

Tc
Cariin Fo r ma t i on of Rcgnier (1960)
Trt

RhyolUic weided Cuff

TERTIARY

Ti b

Intrusive breccia

Q u a r t s latlte

Tgd
Granodlorite

Oligocene
TERTIARY
OR
C R E TAC E O U S

TKrd
Rh yodacite
Kqm
Q u a r t z monzonite

C R E TAC E O U S

Kgd

Granodlorlte
SIUCEOUS (WESTERN) ASSEMB LAGE

TRANS IT ION AL AS SE MB LAGE

C A R B O N ATE (EASTERN) AS SE MB LAGE


Dp

i- Upper Devonian
Unnamed limestone

Popovich For ma ti on
DSI
Undifferentiated limestone
DSI, li mestone
DSa, h yd r ot her ma l l y
altered- limestone

DOb
Brecciated
and altttred
ca r b ona t e
rocks

S2LURKAN

SOc
Chert and shle

AN D
ORDOV C IAN

D Sr m
Roberts Mountains For ma ti on
SOh

DEVON IAN

DEVONIAN
AND
SILURIAN

SILURIAN
AND
ORDOVIC IAN

H an s on Cr eek For ma ti on
Oe

- ORDOVIC IAN

Eureka Quart zite


Op
Pogonip Gr ou p

CAMBRIAN

Ch
H a mb u r g Dolomite
C O N TAC T
FAULTDotted where concea led
THRUST FAULTDotted where concea led
Tee t h on upper plate
LOC ATIO N O F MINE AND (OR) DEPOSIT

FIG 12.5c

Cariin District.

98
12.2.2.

Geological Legen(j

Soils
Soils vary considerably in composition and appearance according to their genetic,

climatic, and geograpiiic environment. Classified into residua l and transported types
according to their relationship to their substrate, soils are mixtures of mineral and biologic
matter and may be distinctively differentiated into a series of soil horizons.
Soils are most often sampled alona traverses or grids in the follow-up or detaile
d
prospecting stages of geochemical programs. In rugged terrain initial follow-up surveys
of reconnaissance stream sediment anomalies is sometimes most readily achieved b
y
sampling soils along ridge and spur (Fig. 12.6), and/or base of slope (Fig.
12.7)
traverses, in recent years increasing attention has been given to low densitv s
oil
sampling (i.e.1 sample per km) in geochemical reconnaissance survevs and aeochemica l mapping. As has been previously stressed, orientation programs define criteria such
as sample depth or soil horizon to be sampled, sample interval, and the size-fraction f
or
analysis. It is essential that these criteria be observed resolutely through the survey.
Residual soils characteristically contain detectable dispersion patterns developed
during the weathering of mineralization in the underlying bedrock, and these patterns are
revealed by careful sampling of appropriate soil horizons. As might be expected, in vie
w
of the size of the deposits and associated primary geochemical haloes, near surfa
ce
sediment hosted fine disseminated gold deposits in semi-arid areas, such as Nevada, are
commonly reflected by extensive geochemical anomalies in the immature residual soils.
It is therefore not surprising that geochemical soil (generally C - horizon) sampling h
as
assisted in the discovery of a number of these deposits (e.g. Alligator Ridge, Je
rritt
Canyon, etc.). Some indication of the size and nature of soil anomalies which might
be
expected in the vicinity of such mineralization is provided by Bagby, et al., (1984) i
n a
study of soils over the Dee Deposit, Nevada. The minus 80 mesh sieved fraction of 1
59
C horizon soil samples were analyzed for a number of elements including Au, As, Sb, Ag
,
and Hg. The resultant geochemical data display anomalous patterns over and in th
e
immediate vicinity of the known "shallow" (>100 feet - 40 m) and "deep" (>300 feet - 1
20
These could be readily detected in ro
m) ore zones (Figs. 12.8 and 12.9).
utine
geochemical soil surveys based on, say, a 30 m grid.

Deeply weathered residua l soils can also provide useful geochemical sampling
media. An example of use of lateritic soils as a regional geochemical reconnaissanc
e
sample medium is provided by Lewis et al (1989). Lateritic soils were sampled on a 4
00
m grid in a UN exploration reconnaissance program for Archean metavolcanics hoste
d
massive sulfide (i.e. VMS) mineralization in the West African nation of Burkina Fa
so.
Follow-up soil sampling on a 25 m grid spacing of small weak anomalies detected in t
he
reconnaissance phase (Fig. 12.10
) confirmed the existence of a dist
inct 550 by 250 m 2n
***'

)
anomaly (I.e. >200 ppm) (Fig.

12.11). Subsequent drilling result


j
*(
*
ed in the delineation of
a major VMS deposit.

* *

*/*

**

Heavy-metal content
of colluvium (ppm)
>2000
.500-2000
< 500

)*

1
2 kilometers

500 meters
FIG

12.6

Example of ridge-and-spur soii-sampling


pattern, Cebu Project, Republic of Philip
Data on -SO-mesh fraction. (Rose.
pines.
Hawi<es, & Webb, 1 979)

Lemieux
fraction.

100

District, Q u e b e c . Data on - 1c m
(Rose, Haw kes & Webb, 1979)

Af.s**
o*i.S
Ol.o-I.s
*0T
xo.s
t.M

1100

f. .

<

1000

FIG

12.7

1100

3k~A
0>5f
e it>5e
X
X S.
+ 1.5-3 . ** ,

Example of b a s e1000
- o f -s l op e sampling pattern,

,,.0

1000-

llOO

TI.AA
-B 1.3-1.7
o I.UI.2
X .*-1.0
X .1-

1100

1000-

I,

FIG 12.8

1000-

Spatial variation of anomalous soil samples. Symbols represent the histogram groups.
Outlined samples are those that have element concentrations in the upper two histogram
groups and are considered anomalous for this sample population. Deep ore = : shallow
ore \\\\ and ////. (Bagby et al., 1984)

101

FIG 12.9

102

A) Outlines of areas with samples that contain anomalous


values. The large outlined area contains samples that are
anomalous for more than one element, whereas the two
smaller areas contain samples that are anomalous in only
one element. Ore zones are shown as in Figure 12.8. B)
Outlines of the anomalous areas from Figure 12.9a with the
addition of smaller anomalies defined by areas containing
three or more samples with concentrations in the uppermost
histogram group. (Bagby et al, 1984)

FIG 12.10

Regional soil geochemistry (Zn) in


the area around the Perkoa Deposit,
Burkino Faso. Values in ppm. (Lewis,
et al.. 1989)

FIG 12.11

Detailed geochemistry (Zn) in the


vicinity of the Perkoa Deposit, Bur
kino Faso. Values in ppm. (Lewis, ei
al., 1989)

103

Geochemical soil sampling can also constitute a useful technique in go!d


exploration over lateritic terrain. The potential effectiveness of this appr oa ch is illustrated
by a recent study of surface pisolitic laterites over the Saddleback Greenstone Belt, in
Western Australia (Smith, 1989). The data reveals that the large (45 million tonnes at 1.8
g/ t Au) Boddingion gold deposit, which comprises extensive laterite, saprolite and
supergene resen/es over a primary volcanogenic massive sulfide source, displays a
surface chalcophile element halo measuring some 30 km by 4 km (Fig. 12.12b). In
contrast the surface gold halo extends over an area of s o m e 3 km by 1 km (Fig. 12.12a).
The large size of the chalcophile element anomaly in the surface laterite is thought to
reflect the retention of As, Sb, Bi, etc. in the Fe-oxyhydoxides and Sn and W in resistant
minerals during the laterite soil profile development, and s u b s e q u e n t lateral mechanical
dispersion (Fig. 12.13). (Thus the soils are not completely residual, in the strictest sense.)
The "mushroom-form" of the zone of gold concentration in the subsurface saprolites (Fig.
12.13) is thought to reflect leaching and supe rgen e enrichment during post-laterito
modification of the weathering profile. Both low density (i.e. < 1 per km) reconnaissance
and higher density follow-up geochemical soil sampling techniques could obviously play
useful roles in exploration for Boddington-type gold occurrences.
The Boddington
example also demonstrates the need for care when using residual soils as geochemical
exploration sample media. Hydromorphic dispersion can sometimes produce epigenetic
soil anomalies located s o m e distance from the bedrock source.
A similar "soil" sampling method developed in recent years for deeply weathered
semi-arid ar ea s with long weathering histories, utilizes the surface residual concentrations
of hard rock fragments (generally siliceous a n d / o r ferruginous) which remain after most
of the fines have been blown away. In Australia this sample media is known as "lag"
(Carver, et al., 1987), and has been successfully used in exploration for gold and b a s e
metal sulfides. Figure 12.14 illustrates the far larger size of a gold anomaly defined by
"lag" samples from a 400x50 m reconnaissance grid, co mp ar ed to that displayed by
follow-up bulk soil samples from a 100x20 m grid in the Eastern Goldfields Province of
Western Australia. Som e s u c c e s s in comparable terrain (Australia and Botswana) has also
been claimed (Farrell, 1984) on both regional and local scales for a geochemical

exploration method b a s e d on the heavy mineral concentrate fraction of soils (i.e. "loam"
concentrates).
Transported soils present especially difficult sampling problems, but meaningful
surveys are possible in many areas once the genetic origins of the transported cover are
jnderstood. in glaciated areas, for example, soils derived from glacial dispersion trains
can present far larger targets than the suboutcropping source mineralization. At Buchans,
Newfoundland, extensive soil anomalies, overlying tills, reflect glacial dispersion trains
which extend for s o m e miles "down-ice" (i.e. southwestward) from suboutcropping
volcanogenic massive sulfide mineralizations (Fig. 12.15). Anomalous "hot-spots" reflect
ocally enriched (or better exposed) portions of the dispersion train which are often far
104

Australia, showing dispersion patterns about tine Boddington Au deposit. (Smitii,


1989)

FIG 12.13

Diagrammatic cross-section depict-ing retention of chalcopliile elements such as As,


Sb, Bi, In, Mo, and perhaps Ge in the Fe-oxyhydroxides and Sn and W in resistant
minerals in tateritic duricrust, whereas Au has undergone ieaching and supergene
enrichment during post-laterite modification of the weathering profile. (Smith, 1989)

105

LAGS

4000E

6000E

4000E

SOILS

6000E

1 km
50000N

+
-+

< 5 ppb Au

49000N

\ I < 5 ppb Au
m 5 -40

iU

5-30

30-85

40-70

>85

> 70

FIG 12.14

Comparison of Au anomalies in -6 + 2 mm lags and -6 mm


soils, Eastern Goldfields Province, Western Australia.
(Carver et al., 1987)

2INC IN

> 100

Il~c

100 p p i i

SCO

\j

SOILS
BftCKSfiOUNC

an o malo us
Q
MODERATE-STflONGk-l"

p pm

kOTg:
DITA RELATE TO MIHUS

106

from their bedrock source. In this type of situation, unless the nature of the surficial
environment is fully appreciated, time and effort could be wasted in fruitless searches for
mineralized bedrock sources in the immediate vicinity of many of the anomaiy "peaks".
In some areas with barren exotic overburden the soi l humus horizon (alternatively
known as mull. Ao, or Ah material) constitutes an effective geochemical sampling medium.
As discussed below in the section dealing with geochemical surveys based on vegetation
sampling, the root penetration of plants sometimes exceeds the thickness of barren cover
and obtains nutrients from underlying mineralized bedrock and/or anomalous ground
water. In glaciated areas, deep rooted plants can sometimes obtain nutrients from
anomalous till dispersion trains (related to nearby suboutcropping mineralization) which
are obscured by barren oveburden. The seasonal fall of leaves and needles transfers
some of the accumulated metals to the surface soil where they are incorporated in the
humus. An early demonstration of the potential effectiveness of mull sampling in gold
exploration was provided by Curtin et al. (1971) in a research study of the Empire mining
district, Colorado. Au distribution patterns in mull (Fig. 12.16) were found to more dearly
reflect glacial sediment covered gold bearing quartz/sulfide veins than the Au distribution
patterns for the C horizon soils (Fig. 12.17). More recently, considerable attention has
been given to the use of humus as a geochemical sample medium in the Canadian
Shield. Gleeson and Sheehan (1987) report an absence of humus response around the
Doyon gold deposit in Quebec Province, presumably due to the presence of 1 m of
relatively impermeable glaciolacustrine clay and silt that overlies the 1 m to 2 m of
anomalous, locally derived till. At the Williams property, in the Hemlo district, generally
poor response is reported for "B" horizon soils due to the presence of several meters of
exotic calcareous till. However, humus samples show well defined gold anomalies (Fig.
12.18) over gold occurrences and associated anomalous glacial dispersion trains (Fig.
12.19).
They conclude that in the Hemlo district humus sampling is an effective
geochemical exploration medium over terrain underlain by up to 5 m of permeable
overburden (exotic or otherwise), whilst "B" horizon sampling should be confined to areas
where the till cover is thin or absent (i.e. <1 m).
Attention is drawn to a useful check list for the organization of soil surveys (Table
which
also has some relevance to other types of sample media.
12-2)
12.2.3.

Stream Sediments
Stream

sediment is one of the more commonly used media for regiona l


geochemica l surveys. The sediment at any point in a stream is a natural composite
sample of erosional materials from upstream in the drainage basin and can include clastic,
ano malous

hydromorphic, and biogenic contributions from any weathering mineralization present.


The length of anomalous dispersion trains will vary with the nature of the mineralization,
In
source, and the physicochemical environment of the field area or drainage basin.
base
humid, actively oxidizing environments, dispersion trains from sulfide-rich
metal
M _
g
deposits may extend downstream for some miles.
\
N.

CO
ra
c
"S

a
Q. -c

'3
>

.E
.E t:
oras
"
c <
.
o
"
o
M

W
\

r oT ffl

j=
.5

- i:
n
ffl
a

Q.

a, tn

ffl

-J

_c

(Q n
0)
ffl

2
d
o
C) o
o>

I|

E
a

Q.

Oi

Q.

cn

1/5
iSd
w

03 r
cn

AOKHnOSUd J.K|33H3d

l
T

O
O .=
a

\\
\

.
c
g
.

=5
n

E E
Q. Q.
Q Q.
T"
CO
cn d 2

'S ?

to
"

w ffl

o
ffl

c
o
a u
c
03
o
O CO
to
o

oT CO
Q.

a.
M

o) a
i
c -1

<]> (A
.i:
"q. =

CQ

i?

Q.
Q.
CO

(0
ffl

2
o

12
o

G)

-JZ

ffl

O)

)
i
a
s
A3M3n03U4 1M33MU

;o
rg
rCJ

108

7+oost:
TroasCanada
Ou tline
~

malers

I 50
BHBi 500

FIG 12.18

gold

Highway
zones

MetasedimentsMetovolcanics

-25
400

of

coniact

ppb
ppb
ppb

Hemlo Gold District, Ontario. Williams Option - gold in liumus.


(Gleeson and Sheehan, 1987}

7+OOSt
Tra n s C a n o d o
Ou t lin e
-

400

meters

of

go ld

Hghwoy
zones

MetosedimenfsMetavolcanics

25

ppb

-50

ppb

500

ppb

contact

109

Check

Item
numbers, composition, experience, leader
when, where, by whom
appropriate scale, topography, etc.

FIELD PARTY
TRAINING
BASE MAPS
NUMBERING SCHEMES
FIELD NOTES
QUALITY CONTROL
COMMUNICATIONS
W ITH LABORATORY
SHIPPING LISTS
INSTRUCTIONS
RETURN OF DATA
DATA H A N D L IN G
INTERPRETATION MAPS
INTEGRATION OF FIELD
NOTES
STORAGE OF DATA
ARCHIVE OF SAMPLES
INTEGRATION WITH
OTHER EXPLORATION
PROCEDURES
REPORTING

TABLE 12.2

simple unambiguous, avoid complex alphanumerics


make sure they are taken correctly
collect field duplicate samples and insert, wi th standards, in batch submitted to laboratory
must t>e simple and direct. Only designated personnel should actually give instructions to the
laboratory.
must accompany every consignment sent to the laboratory
give clear unambiguous instructions to the laboratory
check duplicates, standards, etc. for quality of analytical data, request reanalysis when in doubt
manual or computer aided. What procedures are best for your project?
prepared Co summarize geochemical features
used to qualify interpretation of geochemical data
need to be able to retrieve for reinterpretation
at laboratory, office or warehouse
ensure good communication with management and other project personnel

author of report must be familiar wi th field program

Checklist for the organization of a geochenriical soil survey.

(Thomson, 1987)

As has been recently pointed out (Plant, et al., 1989) stream sediment samples fall
into two broad categories:
(i)
(ii)

representative samples;
samples designed to enhance patterns or anomalies related to specific
mineral deposit types.

Representative samples are the basis of most regiona l geochemica l mappina


programs conducted by national survey organizations, as well as some regional
geochemical exploration surveys undertaken by mining companies. They commonly use
active stream sediment (i.e. material constantly or frequently washed by stream waters)
that is most representative of catchment erosion products, including petrogenic elements,
in a wide variety of climatically influenced weathering environments. In most of these
survey programs, approximately 500 to 1000 g of fine-grained material is collected from
the upper few inches of the sediment near the center of a drainage, avoiding sites that
may be contaminated or influenced by bank collapse. In most situations samples are
best collected with the aid of a (non-contaminating) steel shovel or plastic scoop,
Ballantyne (1991) recommends use of the latter in flowing streams as the scoop walls
help minimize loss of fines.

110

RIVER

RIVERPLAIN

FIG. 12.20a

Water discharge of a river under ordinary conditions with


normal amounts of water. {Otteson et, al., 1989)

FIG 12.20b

Water discharge of a river during a major flood.


sedimentation takes place on the river plain.
(Otteson et. ai., 1989)

Overbani<

Where active stream sediment is unrepresentative due to localized nature of current


fluvial erosion (Figs. 12.20 and 12.21), as in many parts of Scandinavia and else-where,
vertical composite samples of "overbank" (i.e. levee or flood plain) materia! have proven
more effective (Otteson, et al., 1989). These are derived from many episodes of flood
sedimentation and are therefore far more likely to constitute a representative sample of
the whole catchment than regular active sediment samples. Avoidance of more recent
(i.e. near surface) sediment in and around industrialized areas helps minimize possible
effects from industrial contamination.
111

FIG. 12.21

A d i a g r a m m a t i c de pic ti on of h o w g e o c h e m i c a l dispersa
patterns f or active stream s ed i m e n t and o v e r b a n k
se d i m e n t m a y be influenced b y mineralization and
se d i m e n t sources. In tine stream on the right ha nd side,
th e active stream sed im en t is d o m i n a t e d b y sed im en t
so u rc e No. 1, a reason why the anomaly can be det ec te d
onl y in th e o v e r b a n k sediment, in the m id dl e river, wh e r e
no active sed im en t sources exist in t he u p p er part, a
str ea m-se di men t a n o m a l y has d e ve l o p e d wh e r e th e
s tre am crosses th e mineralization du e to influence f r o m
pa ie o-so urces and a presentl y small, diffuse se d i m e n t
p r o d u c t i o n o c c u r r i n g along the stream bed. This anomaly
Is diluted b y sed im en ts f r o m so u rc e 3. (Otteson et al.,
1989)

Regional geochemical mapping programs based on representative stream


sediment samples generally cover areas of thousands or even tens of thousands
of
square miles. A majority of these surveys emplo y sampling densities greater than 1
per
5 km, although the recent Nordkallott Project in Northern Scandinavia used a sa
mple
density of 1 sample per 30 km. Even lower density sampling (i.e. 1 sample per 500
km)
was applied in a recent geochemical mapping survey (Fig. 12.22) of the whole of Norw
ay
based on "overbank" sampling (Otteson, et al., 1989).
As mentioned above, representative stream sediments are frequently also used a
s
geochemical sample media in regional reconnaissance exploration program s. The results
of a fairly smail but successful survey based on this medium are described by Webs
ter

112

t
- >

''
"t-

:%/

T.r\

'- i' -' *'


i
- .

y " -

t'

-W,-

'

./

..'"iC, il
ay-i

w
~i> ,
"S-.*""- -;
..w

.-A " p p m
.
' . *. '
'.'

>7- r<* .:;/-


*'' 'V 1 *<

-1.6

>:';

ft Q

?i6-o

-.

'X
*. f.y

FIG 12.22

200km

Hot nitric acid soluble Mo in overbank sediment, Norway. An anomalous sample down
stream from the Nordli deposit is indicated witli an arrow. (Otteson et al, 1989)

113

and Skey, 1979). Geochemicai analysis of stream sediment samples collected at a


density of 3 to 5 samples/km over an area of Cambrian volcanic rocks in northwestern
Tasmania (Fig. 12.23), resulted in the discovery of the Que River massive Pb/Zn sulfide
deposit. Frequently, anomalous response from target mineralization types can be
enhanced by subjecting stream sediment samples to selective analytical methods, as in
the Bulk Leach Extractable Gold fBLEG) or Bulk Cvanide Leach (BCD technique which
has been used extensively in Australian gold exploration in recent years (Elliott and

Towsey, 1989). Large (often 5-10 kg) samples of active stream sediment (minus the
coarser fractions) are exposed to a weak cyanide solution which leaches out accessible
gold. The gold content of the leachate can then be analyzed. The method is extremely
sensitive and helps minimize "nugget effects". Obviously it can only be used where gold
is freely accessible (i.e. in fine particulate form, exposed on mineral surfaces, etc.) io the
leachate, and is most effective in deeply weathered areas and in samples which are free
of refractory materials and the gold is not occluded.
Geochemicai exploration efficiency can in many cases be increased by collection
and analysis of specific fractions of active stream sediments or even alternative drainage
sediment components which, in certain circumstances, display more distinct and more
consistent Indications of the presence of target mineral deposits than do representative
samples of active stream sediments. Probably one of the better examples of this type of
approach is provided by heavy mineral concentrates. These improve contrast for
elements such as tungsten (e.g. Turiel, et al, 1987), barium (Coats, et al., 1981) and gold
(Fletcher, 1985 and Mauhce, 1991) when they are held in resstate mineral phases. They
are sometimes also useful in lateritic terrain where elements of interest are held in iron
oxides.
In some areas (e.g. southeastern U.S.A.) selective analysis of manoanese and iron
hydroxide coatings on stream sediment particles (boulders down to fines) is an effective
method of detecting hydromorphically dispersed ore and pathfinder elements (Figs.
12.24a and 12.24b) which have been adsorbed and concentrated by these coatings
(Chao and Theobald, 1976; Carpenter, et al., 1975; Nowlan, 1976; Whitney, 1981; Hale
et al., 1984). However, interpretation of the resultant data can sometimes be difficult.
The ultra fine sieved fractions (e.g. minus 200 mesh - minus 75 microns) of stream
sediments have been shown to be effective geochemicai exploration sample medium in
some arid and semi-arid environments. Observed advantages in both base metal
exploration in Australia (Mazzuchelli, 1980; Beeson, 1984), and gold exploration in Nevada
(Mehrtens, pers. comm. 1986) include more extensive and consistent anomalous
dispersion trains than those provided by other sample media such as heavy mineral
concentrates and the coarser sieved sediment fractions. In contrast Moeskops and White
(1980) found the +35 to -18 mesh (+0.5 to -1.0 mm) sieved coarse fraction to be
especially effective in a base metal exploration program in South Australia, whilst Zeegers114

Geoce/Tllcol Re$us
in

p p m

- 20
HCIO4 digestion
A AS Anolysts

Kilometres
Geochemical results for the 1970-71
Tasmania. (Webster and Skey, 1979)

FIG 12.23

scale

survey.

mile

V.

N
.*-

76

5>i

f'
V

/ 'm aG R U D E R

>

A_
>/
!

yi

l DRAINAGE

ffroni

stream sediment

p
V

MAP
mine area

Sompte s<t
Magruder mme
Mmeraliid zone

Que River Prospect,

.r
FIG 12.24a

Sample location map for Magruder Mine area, Georgia.


(Meyer et a!.. 1979)

FIG

Downstream dispersion from zinc, copper, and lead in


minus-80-mesh stream sediments and oxide coatings.
Magruder Mine area. (Meyer et al., 1979)

116

12.24b

et al. (1985) recommended use of the


+ 250 mesh (+62 micron) fraction in
desert areas to avoid problems with
dilution by fine eolian sand.
Qroanic drainage samples have
been used in northern Scandinavia
(Fig. 12.25) and elsewhere due to lack
of normal sedimentary material for long
distances in stream channels (Larsson,
In Scandinavia the samples
1976).
comprise organic debris in various
stages of humification and often
penetrated by the living roots of
various bog plant species. Elsewhere
other potential drainage sample media
have also been examined.
For
example, aquatic mosses were studied
by Erdman and Modreski (1984) to
determine whether they might provide
effective geochemical sample media in

ments in the Vehkavaara


district. (Larsson, 1976)

area,

Pajala

areas where steep terrain prevented


accumulation of stream sediment fine fractions. This clearly constitutes a biogeochemical
exploration method and is therefore described in more detail in Section 12.2.6. However,
an interesting variant of the aquatic moss biogeochemical technique was described by
Smith (1976) following a limited study of mineralized areas in Norway. Moss-trapped
stream sediment material was found to provide similar but higher contrast geochemical
patterns to those produced by normal stream sediment samples.
In the regional reconnaissance prospecting mode, stream sediment surveys can
be designed to systematically cover areas up to several thousand square miles. Average
sampling densities tend to be significantly higher than those employed in geochemical
mapping programs as the emphasis is on detection of dispersion trains related t
o
individual mineral districts a n d /o r deposits, rather than broad mineral provinces.
Densities are frequently in the range 1 sample per 1-3 km, whilst 1 sample per 20 km

would be considered unusually low.


As

has

been

discussed

previously,

in

all

surveys

in

new

areas,

the

critic

al
parameters of sample interval, sediment size fraction, appropriate analytical procedures,
significant anomaly contrasts, and background levels are determined through orientation
surveys. In areas where no previous experience exists, a short interval of 150 ft. (50 m)
over an initial downstream distance of 1050 ft. (350 m) is recommended. This interval
should then be progressively expanded with distance from the metal source to the limits
of the known or anticipated dispersion pattern. Samples must also be collected from nonreconnais but also within the Fennoscandian Shi
eld
sance
mineralized areas to establisii the
technique, and the Cordilleran and
and
sufficient
material
background range
particularl
Appalachian
should be collected at each site to allow
y
regions of North America. The ide
for the determination of optimum size
within th al
e Canadi terrain for this
fractions, analytical techniques, and other
technique is where l
factors listed in Tables 11.1, and 11.4).
an Preca akes
mbrian S are
common, conditions are swa
12.2.4. Lake Sediments
hield,
mpy,
and/or where stream drainages
Lake sediment sampling has been
are
developed into an effective geochemical

inaccessible or poorly developed (Coker


urjlfiiuni gon
et al., 19
79). In low relief regions
>1000 501
1000
e
, the lak
101 - 500
51 - 100 sediment medium is
d
11 SO
0
S tc
(0
on
the
ependen o -< 5
t
__ U-f I deposits
hydromorphic dispersion
of metals into the
lake environment through ground waters
and the adsorption of this metal onto
hydrous oxides and the organic rich muds

117

10-3cm
Eye f o r attaching

line

T hreads for attaching


rigid rods
Outlet vent for water
forced through valve
Ba l l- a nd -so cke t valve

5 m

Sharpened end of tube


for cutting sample

FIG 12.26

Cut-away section of sample bailer for


lake-sediment sampling. (Rose et al,
1979)

(i.e. gytia) being deposited on the lake


bottoms. The sampling generally focuses on the collection of these organic muds using
specially designed sampling devices {Fig. 12.26). In more mountainous areas, fine
grained clastic dispersion into the lake sediment becomes a more important factor. In
most areas satisfactory sample locations are found well away from lake shores and are
reached using boats, float planes or helicopters. However, near shore materials have
been successfully used in some programs in the northern part of the Canadian Shield
although these are generally subaqueous equivalents of glacial and postglacial sediments
on the margins of lakes and not true lake sediments. Lake water samples {see Section
12.2.7.) are commonly collected at the same sites as the lake sediments.
The lake sediment technique has successfully indicated the presence of several
In
important forms of mineralization as the following examples clearly demonstrate.
Saskatchewan the Key Lake and Rabbit Lake uranium mineralizations and associated
anomalous glacial dispersion trains are reflected by extensive lake sediment anomalies
(Figs. 12.27 and 12.28). Equally impressive anomalies are found in the vicinity of the

.V Q,.~

O'

;0

> O

o-

Vv,

S'Q.'.

. 'OI

': '

rj

r'

0_

--

. r-- -'

( -!.

9
' t '

' - "-r,

'

'I

f ) I

. -

(\\{

Vjp..;

a'~

.,

>-/
"~J

>-

Qv

FIG 12.27

Distribution of U in lake sediments in the vicinity of the


Key Lake U-Ni deposit, Saskatchewan. (Coker et a!.,
1979)

FIG 12.28

Uranium (ppm) in lake sediments near the Rabbit l_ake


uranium deposit. Saskatchewan. Location of deposit
shown by solid triangle. (Coker et al., 1979)

application
massive
sulfide
Agrcola
deposit, Northwest Territories
(Fig, 12.29), and in fact assisted
in its original discovery (Coker,
1979). More recently a number
of authors have reported on the

of
lake
sediment

geochemistry to gold explora


tion. McConnell and Davenport
(1989) carried out extensive
orientation
studies
in
Newfoundland based on the
geochemical analysis of organic
sediment collected from lake
centers. It was determined that

119

most, but not all known Au


occurrences were distinguished
METAVOLCANICS

by anomalous Au concentra
tions in nearby take sediments
12.30
and
(Figs.
12.31).
Pathfinder elements (Sb, As, Pb,
Cu and Zn) display inconsistent FIG
relationships to gold mineraliza
tion and it was concluded that

108-"0
7 n N es r s ho r e
l8i:e
METASEDIMENTS .

sediments

\ .90

GRANITES
Geological boundar y

Massive sulphicfe body

12.29

Distribution of Zn (ppm) in nearshore lake bottom


materials. Agrcola Lake area, N.WT. (Coker et a!,
1979)

Au is the only
universal
indicator. They suggest that for detailed exploration a sampling density of at leas
t 1
sample per 4-5 km is necessary.
Useful

reviews

of the

application

of

lake

sediment

geochemistry

in

mi

neral
exploration in Canad
riske (1991).

a are provided by Hornbrook (1989) and F

12.2.5.

Glacial Sediments

Extensive Quat
ernary glacial deposits occurring over mos
/
t of Canada and th
e
northern United States, northern Europe, northern Asia, Geenland, and a number of hi
gh
elevation areas in the southern hemisphere have presented major challenge
s to
exploration. As a better understanding of the origin and formation of these gl
acial
sediments has grown, their blanketing presence has become progressively
less
formidable and effective exploration techniques have been developed.
>'

Mineralized boulde r tracing in glaciated regions is an established technique of th


e
traditional prospector in Scandinavia and parts of Canada. In Scandinavia, dogs h
ave
been trained to assist the prospector by sensing SOg released from oxidizing sul
fide
boulders at shallow depths below the surface. In Finland, methods were developed
for
120

"J*

miL

iOfit

1.
6 59.0,

'

flAM.Aq.Cu.Pttl
/

./

'

o
CAnoowFenous
A
154* d u i Morlfi Brook a4nta
7
StrAMOcrfy MH< Qfarulc
OeVONiAN
6
uVin<lCHNylA&s 4Hilf Gnnie:
5
MVnOSor P<ni S f A i p tntfn; ftff /ffste
>
S'LURI-AN
a<4D0VJCfi*iM
4
Cap
Gr*piie

tuttS

-15

-S.O-,
-A S-

Minfrgifiea

JOflt

...

G-eaJftjjr<:rr bounOfft..
g}RPOVK:iAN
3
fo J /0 a rwtaftte m ffrwntfota r oc *f
2
otitic se/tfft df*o msfhttufinr

C?#C4//Snr OrecfVfT
fA. fOCf. A

Ca,m6 A0 OIOOviCian
1
long sngt ntM/rc - UttrnmsfK Compf

Gold in lake sediment. Cape Ray


(McConnell and Davenport. 1989)

FIG 12.30

i O" OO >1

Fault

Newfoundland.

area.

1 &&

[-4
7.0-

1-4.4-

OOUCERS

system

fault

-1.6

valley"//
iacv

4+',

.,# "

,i / orfL
./*

20 3040506070 80

90 9

CAfaONIFEftOUS
Dr Lak Coup.- eistitc & e m t n i A y rocki

"f
I

to

DE V O N IA N
2 1
10 ?o ao d( >s a 07 0 ac h
99
7 SII LM Ininjfthv SuKO: grtntt.
fonaui. jaJfirffl
SILUR IA N
6 Soos A r m Croup- seifTi9rftr<f foc*& ie3,ic a n a
tiiifict miic vo'cvi'c rociks

CAMeRO' OfDOViCIAN
5 SOMlf>*rn Whtiv
Bay
Atlochlhon ion*ht9
/9 s cft ist . mtagr>fwctm. minq*
A Ci,>nv Arm Croui t4i*tbor\4tt *<i<t c<4iti4
roc ki

P R EC A MB R IA N
3 0V* &n(Ie
S 2i . Frer>cn-CiiKl3 grdrtodO'ii*. 20. Qtwnn
1 jnvnjbo'Kp.. p4iro

|c5

FIG 12.31

ci09ca
r
'f

'<l

tmjna f}f

Ptvit

A./" S.<
; K

Gtaci&i-tion <9<recrro/i
(A. emriy. 6
'ar|

Gold in lake sediment, White


(McConnell and Davenport. 1989)

//v>\

'I

Bay

area.

Newfoundland.

121

FIG 12.32

Simplified
circulation
1979)

sketch
drilling

of
the
reverse
system (Thompson,

sampling tills in the 1950's, and this technique is n o w the preferred sampling method
in
iiiost Finnish geochemical exploration programs. Esker sampling and till sampling for
distinctive heavy mineral suites have been used for kimberlite and diamond prospectin
g
ir the Canadian Shield.
Approximately

70% of l od g em e n t till

is

locally

derived,

and

most

of the

arly
mjccess with till sampling was in areas of shallow till cover (less than 30 ft or 10 m) wh
ere
iTe sample medium is reasonably accessible. In the 1960's, lightweight percussion drill
s
K j c h as the Pionjar and Cobra models, were adapted to collect small samples of till fro
m
i r m e d i a t e i y above the subou tcro ppin g bedrock to geochemicall y categorize anomaJous
geophysical features at depths of up to 70 to 80 ft (23 to 25 m) (Gleeson et al., 1
971).
Overburden drilling technology, particularly reverse circulation (Fig. 12.32) and son
ic
Tifing, advanced rapidly with the utilization of larger drills in pro grams for uranium, ba
so
metal and gold deposits in glaciated areas.
Because most types of
I
geophysical methods, lodgement
ft
has been routinely used
poo m)
he
te il y 1980's. In these programs
are

122

gold deposits are not detectable by conventional


till sampling using overburden drills to depths of 330
in prospecting for gold in the Canadian Shield since t
large samples of till (approximately 20 lb or 10 kg)

LONGITUDINAL

SECTION
A

FIG 12.33

Idealized geochemical dispersion modei for lodgement till, (Miller, 1984)

generally recovered and the heavy mineral fraction is separated and examined both
visually and chemically for gold and other metals. It Is essential that the whole of the
lodgement till section is routinely sampled as indicator trains tend to rise down-Ice along
smear or thrust planes within individual till formations as shown in Figure 12.33. Even in
this simple example, significant parts of the dispersion train will not necessarily b
e
detected if attention is restricted to till immediately adjacent to bedrock. Adequate
sampling becomes even more critical when there are several lodgement tills related to
distinct glacial episodes in an area with pronounced bedrock topography (Fig. 12.34).
In the hypothetical example shown in the figure three mineral deposits suboutcrop
beneath lodgement tills which have been sampled by six vertical drill holes. Samples of
till from hole 01 will not contain anomalous indications because the site is up-ice
of
mineralization. Hole 02 will contain anomalous material related to Mineralization A in
"basal" till (2). Hole 03 will contain a strong anomaly in "basal" till (1) related
to
Mineralization B and a weaker, distal anomaly in an "upper" till (2) related to Mineralization
A. Hole 04, because of the effect of bedrock topography and the constriction of till
deposition and possibly accelerated erosion of earlier till over the bedrock escarpment,
will contain no anomalous material related to either Mineralizations A or B. Hole 05 will
contain anomalous material related to Mineralization C in its "basal" till (4) but hole 06 with

ICE

MOVEMENT
02

03

04

05

REWORKED TILLS.
HORIZONS ETC.
01,02-.

i t2.34
124

OVERBURDEN

rLUVIOClAC'JM.

DRILL

HOLE

STES

Ontario.
Diagrammatic overburden profiies in tlie Abitibi clay belt,

no lodgement till will not provide material suitable for sampling. The correct interpretaticr
of till data is obviously dependent on a thorough understanding of local glacial sedimen
stratigraphy and provenance. The technique is expensive, with combined drilling, samp
treatment, and analytical costs ranging from $20 to $30 per foot ($66-$99 per m), but :
is cost effective in deep overburden covered environments where other exploratior
methods have not been as successful, especially in gold exploration.

Up to now the majority of the glacial overburden drilling programs in North America
have primarily relied on geochemical analysis of the heavy mineral concentrate fraction
of overburden samples. Several significant gold deposits have been discovered in Canada
by this method. For example, in the Casa Berardi area of Quebec the technique was
successfully used in follow-up of favorable stratigraphic zones delineated by geophysica
methods (Sauerbrei, et al.. 1987).Initially, orientation studies of glacial overburder
overlying a portion of this stratigraphic sequence known to contain pyrite-arsenopyritenative Au bearing quartz-carbonate vein mineralization (Golden Pond deposit) had
enabled determination of optimum geochemical procedures for the district. Targets were
first tested with overburden drill holes located 25-100 m down-ice at 300-400 m intervals
along strike (Fig. 12.35a). Closer spaced overburden drilling was used to further define
anomalous dispersion trains prior to diamond drilling of bedrock (Fig. 12.35b) which
resulted in the discovery of the Golden Pond East zone. The gold content of heavy
mineral concentrate samples from the overburden were determined both visually and by
analysis. The samples were also analyzed for As and Sb. It should be noted that in this
particular area glacial dispersion of gold is only of the order of 200 to 400 m.
The degree of complexity sometimes observed in till stratigraphy and glacial
dispersion, which was previously alluded too, is clearly shown by the work of Bird and
Coker (1987) in the vicinity of the Owl Creek gold mine, Timmins, Ontario. They defined
four distinct glacial episodes each with different ice movement directions. In the lowest
(older) till, which directly overlies bedrock, gold dispersal (as determined by analysis of
heavy mineral concentrates) is very limited, as it is truncated against a bedrock ridge (Fig.
12.36). The highest gold concentrations are located adjacent to the subcropping gold
occurrence. The overlying till has not been in contact with the mineralization and has
derived it's gold from the lower till. This disperal train is longer (approximately 600 m, and
maximum gold values in heavy mineral concentrates are displaced 300 m down-ice from
the mineralization (Fig. 12.37).
A successful gold exploration program using both geophysical and geochemical
techniques is described by Harron, et al. (1987). Around 90 overburden sampling drill
holes were completed to test specific geophysically defined targets in an area virtually
devoid of outcrop. On the first pass, sampling of overburden drill holes at 800 to 1200
ft intervals perpendicular to the ice transport direction yielded anomalous gold values in
the heavy mineral concentrate fraction of till and carbonatized quartz pyrite-rich bedrock
chips. Subsequent induced polarization-resistivity surveys defined the areal extent of a
pyritic carbonate alteration zone. A second pass till sampling and shallow bedrock
125

E.M.
w

GOLD

HE AVY

Km

MINERAL

C ONC E NT R ATE S
Anomalous > 2.0 ppm
o We a k l y Anomalous 0.5 - 2.0 ppm

lU
o

FIG 12.35a

IN

Conductor

Not

Anomalous

<0.5

ppm

Plan showing results of reverse-circulation drilling from the Golden Pond


orientation survey and exploration follow-up east and west of Golden Pond,
Quebec. Anomaly classification is based on the highest heavy mineral
concentrate (HMC) gold assay from the bottom three samples. (Sauerbrei
et al.. 1987

100

10300 N
714S5

71432

Gold in Heavy
Mineral Concentrates

Au > 2.0 ppm


o
Au 0.5 - 2.0 ppm
Au < 0.5 ppm
o

FIG 12.35b

Discovery

Phase I
Phase II

Plan showing the results of the initial and follow-up phases of reversecirculation drilling at Golden Pond East, Quebec. (Sauerbrei, et al 1987)

127

sampling program was then


jsed to determine the gold
potential of this zone. The
mineral
concentrate
"ieavy
faction of the till samples
delineates an anomalous (i.e.
'eportedly 2000 ppb) gold
dispersion train of fairly limited
extent as shown in Figure 12,38
(i.e. extending for hundreds
rather than thousands of feet
down ice). The short dispersion
train is thought to be related to
the presence of a bedrock ridge
down ice from the auriferous
veins.
Despite

the

LggEHO

* MINCIULjUTK)H
o DVERfiURDeH
-EH COHOUCTOfi
cHMSEiaiuTT log'
C7r> HESISTIVITT
-Z. "100'
S 500 PMJ [N LOH TILL'iig;
CS eSKEH

DIABASe
[T] SEDIHEKTS
MAfIC
I VOtCAHICS

MURPHY-HOYLE J.V.

QLOWER TILL GOLD


ANOMALY a GEOPHYSICS
TIMMtMS AREA, ONTARIO

1320' !6<W
SCALE IN FEET

exploration
Murphy-Hoyle

J.

V.,

Timmlns

area,

Ontario,

use
of
mineral
Canada. Gold in tni anomaly plotted in relation to
heavy
concentrates
fromresulting
is the FIG 12.38 induced polarization/resistivltyand horizontal loop
successes
from
till, caution
electromagnetic survey results. (Harron, et al,,
recommended. In view of the
variable
nature
of target
m ineralizations
and the
weathering history of the glacial overburden, heavy mineral concentrates will not
necessarily always constitute the optimum sample medium for geochemical analysis.
There have in fact been a number of reports of the successful use of the ultra fine sieved
fractions (e.g. <2 microns) of glacial overburden samples in Canada and Scandinavia
(Coker and DiLabio, 1989, Shilts, 1984, Nikkarinen, et al., 1984). It is thought probable
that in weathering tills the fine grain size phyllosilicate and secondary minerals act as
scavengers, and adsorb trace metals released during the breakdown of sulfide and other
minerals. However, in view of the practical problems associated with the preparation of
sufficient <2 micron material for analysis, the <63 micron (<250 mesh) is more
commonly used. Shelp and Nichol (1987) demonstrate, using data from the Hemlo Au
district and the area containing the Owl Creek Au deposit, Ontario Canada, that the <63
micron fraction can be a more effective geochemical sample medium than heavy mineral
concentrates, at least when target mineralizations contain ultrafine gold. At Hemlo the
HMC gold anomaly decays far more rapidly than that associated with the sieved fines
(Fig. 12.39). At Owl Creek they are broadly comparable in extent (Fig. 12.40). It should
be noted that Scandinavian explorers place a greater routine reliance on the minus 63
micron (minus 240 mesh) fraction of till than do the Canadians. This fraction has
successfully indicated the presence of several types of mineralization, including gold, in
Scandinavia.

heavy-mineral
mineralization

fraction of till assoc at ed with


at Hemlo. Ontario. (Siieip and

Nicliol. 1987)

mineral concentrate and the -63


fraction of
tills from Owl Creek, Ontario. (Shelp and Nicho!,
1987)

129

In view of the general complexity of glacial sediments and the need for correc t
identification of the materiaf being sampled, effective aeochemical exploration in glaciated
terrain requires the particioation of Quaternary geologists or at least geologists with some
training in Quaternary aeoloov fCoker. 1991).
Probably the best recent reviews of geochemical exploration in glacial terrain are
provided by Coker and DiLablo (1989), Coker (1991) and Shilts (1991).
12.2.6.

Vegetation

Early scientific observers dating from the eighth and ninth centuries recorded that
the morphology and distribution of certain plants were affected by the presence of metals
in the soils. Such visible variations in a plant species are referred to as oeobotanical
indicators. Many other plants, while not showing any visible variations, are capable of
concentrating metals in their tissues and the presence of anomalous metals in the soils
or ground waters is often reflected in the metal content of leaves, twigs, or other plant
organs. These invisible metal concentrations are known as biooeochemica l indicators

(Brooks, 1972).
Geobotanical and biooeochemica l indicators are of greatest potential interest as
mineral exoloration tools ]n areas where soil sampling Is ineffective (e.g. jn areas with
barren transported overburdenV Deep penetrating root systems can sometimes provide
surface evidence of bedrock and ground water geochemistry (i.e. they allow the
prospector to "see through" the overburden). Consequently, these techniques, in
particular biogeochemistry, have been applied with varying degrees of success in
glaciated regions of North America (Boyle et al., 1969), Europe and Asia, and in arid and
semi-arid areas, like the Southwestern United States, where pediment, colluvial, and
alluvial cover is extensive (Chaffee, 1977).
Although a number of papers and books on geobotany have been published over
:he years, there is little evidence of extensive direct surface application in mineral
exploration field surveys. The bulk of the published studies are of an academic nature
(e.g. Cannon, 1979) rather than case histories of successful exploration programs. This
presumably, at least to some degree, reflects the fact that effective application of
geobotany requires highly developed botanical skills which are unlikely to be found in the
majority of exploration groups. In addition, effective programs for large areas are difficult
r) design as the results of orientation studies are often likely to have only restricted
acpticability due to the wide variety of environmental factors which can influence plant
growth. Probably the greatest potential value geobotanical features have in mineral
' exploration is indirect. Suitably enhanced satellite imagery may sometimes detect
listinctive spectral responses related to vegetational associations, together with other
iaace features, whose distribution patterns disclose significant (i.e from a mineral
tetploration point of view) regional structural and lithological features (Cole, 1980). In

130

addition anomalous plant communities associated with mineralization may sometimes be


recognized on conventional air photographs.
Some of the few well documented examples of the use of geobotany in a mineral
exploration program are provided by Cole and Le Roex (1978), and Cole (1980). initial
air and ground reconnaissance and orientation surveys of large areas with hot and semiarid climate in South West Africa and Botswana revealed distinctive vegetation
associations that distinguished areas of near surface Proterozic bedrock from those with
thick cover of Kalahari Sand and calcrete. The recognition of anomalous plant
communities (Figs. 12.41a, 12.41b and 12.42) at one of these locations with thin cover
resulted in the discovery of sedex-type copper mineralization, it should be noted that the
mineralization is also reflected by distinctive soil anomalies (Fig. 12.43) which could also
have assisted in the discovery.Subsequently, regional exploration of some 1000 km
strike length of thinly covered potential host strata, using a combination of geobotanical,
biogeochemical and geochemical (soil) techniques, resulted in the discovery of a number
of similar mineral occurrences.
An interesting application of geobotany in gold exploration in Finnish Lapland is
described by Puikkinnen, et al. (1989). They found that host rocks for gold mineralization
(i.e. carbonatized and mica-altered zones within a volcanic sequence) support a distinctive
vegetation despite the presence of glacial overburden (mainly lodgement till). Hence
potential target areas could be effectively delineated during follow-up of anomalies

detected in the course of regional geochemical mapping based on till and drainage
sampling.
Althouch bioaeochemistry has found wider acceptance than geobotany in mineral
exploration, it is still generally far less popular than the techniques described in the
preceding sections (i.e geochemical methods based on rock, soil, stream sediment, etc.,
sampling), mainly due to the difficulties associated with program design and data
interpretation. Plants are complex organisms and so is their metabolism. Different
species respond differently to the same conditions and consequently some species are
more effective biogeochemical indicators than others. For example, deep-rooted plants
(e.g., the mesquite) are much more effective prospectors of the deeper ground waters
than the shallow-rooted flora of the southwestern U.S. deserts and are, therefore,
generally preferred species in biogeochemical work in this particular region.
Nevertheless, shallow rooted plants growing in transported cover may reveal meaningful
patterns in some desert regions. Evapotranspiration has been suggested as a
mechanism for movement of metals into the nutrient depth of these plants.
131

1000

900

-700

-600

UOO

1300

1200

HOC

1000

900

800

700

600

SOO

tOO

Areas of Helichfysum leotoieois on j ossgeiottd


Fimbristvlis tuili Sj
Anstida congesta and Eragrostis denudata

congesto ,
ens

Scattered occurence of Hetichrysum leptolepis

Assaciotion of Aristido
Eragrostis denudata
and Anthephoro pubesc

Areas of Stipogrostis uniplumis

300 ZOO

Association of Ocimom aneficonum. Nidorellg resedtfolia.


Ennegpoqon brochystochus and Fifigerhuthto ofricono
Dense

shrub co*er

'0
o .- .
-..*

FIG. 12.42

n
5
N>

O
O
(D
to
CD
O
to
ro

Vegetation assocations and


ar
Witvlei, Nami

;
" S,

c B * e
.
S*
=>
'

|ea
6 D

100 200 m
'

49 *
Q
.D
bO
V;>-.*ws:
0 D qO
' P 0
0
1 OA

o . 8.1 a
V
O e

. "
0
%2 , 0 0
. . v,V*s*'i w" Is
0 .
n.*.
D
*#&
*
D
D
.
.
o' O
Helicbrysum leptolepis (DC) occurrences over one area ne

D O
0
* , % o

., ; ooWWS
bia. (Cole, 1980)

e> q
*

o Q D
Da U
D
"
D, "< e
*

!?6-'.'
qViV*""?
D

i'iy.'s';-! :'vX ao

*i " o5*i
o
o" Se A ti*
1. .*:. *?*,* t *
.*
t.
/ a * o D
4

*1 #
e*
n
o !

*
.Via
p ,\
I i "i*,* *
<".
*. *>* "* * f
V.VJf-*
, e S- >
tie-1 4
, **
* 4
.w**
0 * 0
4!r"fc V
cT*
4
O*
* * "J" *.tfi
4
4 D
4
. ,

*
#
V . .*;/.*
t* 4
t

t9o

I '

E1 5a

iijifnilfi,
iJUIIdiWfrsHl
i f ni i

CO
CO

"

5'

I' I til

'I s

Usi I

11
'l

i
I
i M I i5Sallii lit
i

'

IIM

in

f
l|33|t
I

HIilll

11

11

v>
0)
u
c
o
u
w
3

u
0

a
.2
a
<t)
o
a
a>

Ihii
IIS3

a
en

>
L.

Ml

I I

<M

X
0
tfl
s
c
o
N
15
b
d)
>
<0
(0
CO
CO
o
u
u
m
u
0)
vt
c
n
w
n
O)
c
O
ra
>
O) O
o (
o en
0)
ra
c a>
0 o
'5 o
3

"u n
2

I>

'B

en
o
"
I
a

V3

IMd

(0
Z
C
a>
k.
re

o4 0 asD

T-

CM

2
134

Alder Twigs
Gold (ppb) in ash
1985

1984
Site

l
.

Alder Leaves
Gold (ppb) in ash

Early
June

Early
August

Mid

Mid

September

April

32

23

250

53

17

47

58

20

34

29

1984
June

August

September

130

43

19

15

166

48

15

10

37

27

18

11

35

34

21

12

23

13

57

25

13

25

13

41

21

13

13

25

11

20

27

21

11

16

10

20

14

20

<5

11

11

29

20

23

75

11

22

12

35

10

22

58

13

23

14

51

FIG 12.43
Copper values in surface soi
in area shown in Fig. 12.42
(Cole, 1980)

Some species preferenti


15
10
24
11
53
14
7
18
a
lly concentrate metals i
n
specific tissues such a
16
11
25
12
42
5
10
13
s
leaves,
17
14
9
11
66
13
<5
13
twigs, bark, or wood. I
18
21
10
48
38
8
7
14
t
is therefore very importa
Mean'
28
10
17
69
18
8
14
n
t to establish the most f
(0.56)
(0.2)
(1.38)
(0.34J
(0.9)
(0.4)
(0.7)
a
vorable tissues
for sampling once a useful species has been identified. This complexity is accentuated
by the fact that metal uptake may vary with aspect and season (Table 12.3). In temperate
forest regions, accelerated uptake and higher concentration commonly occurs during the
spring growth following a dormant winter season. In hot desert regions, following the
exhaustion of available near-surface water during the dry season, deep rooted plants will
tap the deeper ground- waters. Because of these seasonal variations, biogeochemical
surveys must be completed quickly in the optimum period(s) defined by the orientation
studies.
14

12

17

18

33

10

These variables make biogeochemical sampling a very specialized exercise. Some


expertise in botany as well as exploration geochemistry is essential for both the
orientation studies and the supervision of vegetation surveys. On the other hand the
basic field equipment required for biogeochemical sampling is very simple (Dunn, 1991):

135

Ash yield of dry twigs is about 2 percent; Ash yeield of dry leaves is 5 - 6 percent.

TABLE 12.3

Seasonal changes in the gold content of ashed aider twigs and leaves.

(Dunn,

19 91 )

136
(i)
(ii)

(iii)
(iv)
(v)

have been recalculated


in parentheses
to dry brass-free)
a pair of Values
weight basis.
anvil-type
non-contaminating
{e.g.
pruning shears.
preferably Teflon coated;
fairly large sampling bags (e.g. 20 x 30 cm). Use heavy duty coarse brown
paper bags when conditions are dry and cloth bags when conditions are
wet;
roll of masking tape or stapler to close bags;
very large pack. Although samples are not heavy they are extremely bulky;
hunting knife or hatchet for bark sampling.

Dunn (1991) also provides a useful summary of the procedures to be used and the
precautions to be observed when conducting a biogeochemical survey (Table 12.4).

Dunn (1987) has pointed out that with some species, sampling of bark (a dead
tissue) can be an effective technique that is not subject to seasonal metabolic variations.
The potential value of humus as a geochemical sampling medium has already been
discussed in the section on soil surveys. This again avoids the effects of seasonal
variations as the accumulated material constitutes an integrated sample. Weathering,
leaching, and bacterial decomposition will work to diminish the metal contents, but
signatures in mull are generally preserved.
In

view

of current interest in gold exploration, some examples of recent


biogeochemical studies in gold areas are probably particularly appropriate. Unfortunately,
the few case histories published to date on the application of biogeochemistry in gold
exploration over alluvial and colluvial covered semi-arid areas in the western United States
are mostly somewhat inadequate. One by Busche (1989) suggests the presence of
possibly anomalous concentra-tions of gold in the leaves of creosote bushes over both
exposed and colluvium covered epithermai quartz stockwork vein gold at Standard Hill
in the Mojave District, California (Fig. 12.44). As no soil data are provided it is uncertain
whether the apparent anomalous geochemical response is confined to the plant cover.
Another test survey has been described by Erdman, et al.
(1988) of the U.S.G.S.
Limited studies were made of sage-brush geochemistry over skarn-, disseminated gold
and silver-, and hot springs-type mineral occurrences in Nevada. The results are again
far from definitive, but apparently anomalous gold was detected in ashed stem and leaf
sagebrush samples from one traverse adjacent to known gold mineralization (Figs. 12.45
and 12.46). Again no information is provided on the geochemistry of soils along this
traverse!
Published data for the Canadian Shield are somewhat more comprehensive. For
example, Cohen et al. (1987) describe an extensive investigation in the Hemlo Gold
District designed to establish the potential usefulness of biogeochemistry in gold
exploration over areas with shallow exotic till cover. Balsam fir was shown to have an
uneven, if not erratic, distribution along the tree within all organs (Fig. 12.47). In contrast,
gold distribution in Mountain Maple displayed generally higher concentrations in the base

section than in the crown.

137

However, this did not prevent delineation of distinct

Basic Rules

Reasons

1.

Collect same species.

has
a different
Every
species
chemical composition, and trace
element
a nd
requirements
tolerances.

2.

Collect same plant organ.

Each

plant organ has different


capacity to store trace elements.

3.

Colkct same amount (i.e.


age) of growth, from same
area of tree (e.g. chest
height), preferably from all
sides.

There are chemical variations along


a twig (see Table 4), Heterogeneity
in bark scales can be minimized by
scraping from around the tree.

4.

Try to collect samples from


plants of similar age and
appearance,

This
is
the
basic
inter-site
that
is
for
consistency
required
any
geochemical sample medium.

5.

If living tissue is the selected


medium, collect at same
time of year (i.e. conduct
survey in 2-3 week period).

There

tissue
[Dead
can
be
bark)
any time

No appreciable seasonal change]

6.

(e.g, outer
collected at

Do
not
return
to
previously sampled tree and
expect to obtain exactly the
same analyses.

biogeochemical survey.

138
TABLE 12.4

Basic

rules

are
seasonal
significant
in
changes
plant chemistry.

to be

This is unrealistic in view of the


of
element
heterogeneity
distributions and seasonal variations
in composition (and to a leser
extent
annual
Be
variations).
satisfied if an anomaly is the same
order of magnitude.

(Dunn, 1991)

applied at

each sampling

station

when

conducting

.4

'

STANOARO HILL
BtOCEOCHEMICAL SURVEY
AU
0 UMEMIEEO mU HOU
. PLANT SAMPLE
D *OIT

AflA Of IS U SAMPLE
SPACMQ

IlllllltllllU

OrSPPSAU
}-CPPtAU

FIG 12.44

Sample sites and contoured Au values for the Standard


Hill area, California. Gold in plants determined by INAA.
(Busche, 1989)

139

Cre4k

Roc'

Rock CFeeii Ranch


19 V 15 13 n 31 I
20 IB 16 U 12 10 8 6 4

FIG 12 .45 Base map showing site locations


traverses A and
and
along
B,
prospects, adits, and shafts of the
Gold Run mining district, Ne\/ada.
(Erdmann, et al. (1988)

a
'
C/i,
, Adelaide C/own
Mines
- O*-'!i.-i

25-ra21
19 1 4*IS 1311 9 *'*
-32 1 A '
3629>7
*

.
28-26 24 22 10 10 J6 M 12 10 8 ' rXf
Adelaide
*

-.

/"

<f/

Mapf

Mine

XtLOMfTERS

RG. 12,46

140

Gold levels in ashed stem-andleaf samples of sagebrush along


traverse A. Samples with traces
of Au (reported as less than the
limit of determination) are given a
value of 4 ppb and shown as <:
those in which no Au was
detected are indicated by N. Qa
= alluvium, Qg = gravels and
tp
= Prebie Formation. (Erdmann,
etal.. 1988)

30
S'

10
8

linit aT detrnMna.twn
A.

1/

growing over mineraii2ation, sampled


at varying heigiits. (Cohen, 1986)

geochemical patterns in the vicinity of mineralization. For example, in areas of poo:


drainage or exotic overburden the needles of balsam fir and the leaves of birch and alder
display far more extensive anomalous response than the local soils (Figs. 12,48 anc
12.49). In well drained areas both soils and plants display good geochemical response
for gold (Figs. 12.50 and 12.51). Response for most of the pathfinder elements (I.e. Mo,
Sb and Ba), except As, is good in both poor and well drained areas. However, the
multielement data do not provide unique information and their main value is probably as

14

backup in the event of undetected problems with the gold analysis. The data suggest
that in this district biogeoc
POORLY DRAINED
hemistry would be more e
ffective than geochemical s
SPRUCE
3 ,
oil
2 [
sampling in poorly drained are
----- needJes
1
as. In well drained areas geo
bail*
0
chemical soil sampling would
/A
probably be preferable as biog
BALSAM FIR
/
V 1

/
A
/\
eochemistry appears to offer n
ppb
/
Ai
/
\
o clear technical advantages
4
'
and is certainly more expensi
J >
''
2
ve.
i 1
1
needles
/I

bark

1
B HORIZON SOILS
1
1 1
HUMUS
// M
I' H /\
150
225

200

3QG

melfes

FIG 12.48

Hemlo District, Ontario.

Comparison for poorly drained ground between the Au

contents of needles and bark of Balsam Fir (Abiles balamea) and Spruce (Picea
glauca, P. mariana) and B horizon soils and humus. ("M" represents location o
mineralization), (Cohen, et al., 1987)
POORLY DRAINED
BIRCH

Au

ppb

300 rnslrea

FIG 12.49

142

Hemlo District. Ontario. Comparison for poorly drained ground between the Au
contents of Aider leaves, first year twigs and bark, White Birch (Betula papyrifera)
leaves and bark and B horizon soils and humus. ("M" represents location of
mineralization). (Cohen, et al., 1987)

FREELY DRAINED
SPRUCE

FIG 12.50

Hemlo District, Ontario. Comparison for freely drained ground between tfie Au
contents of needles and tjarl< of Balsam Fir (Abies balamea) and Spruce (Picea
glauca, P. mariana) and B horizon soils. ("M" represents location of mineralization.).
(Cohen, et al., 1987)

FREELY DRAINE D
ALDE R

FIG 12.51

Hemio District, Ontario.

Comparison for freely drained ground between Au contents

of Alder (AInus rugosa, A. crispa) leaves, first year twigs and bark and B horizon soils.
("M" represents location of mineralization). (Cohen, et al., 1987)

143

Dunn (1989) provides an interesting demonstration of the potential value of


Diogeochemistry in regional gold reconnaissance programs. Analytical data for samples
of the outer scales of spruce bark, collected on sample density of only 1 site per 50 km
over 5000 km in Nova Scotia, broadly define the known gold districts, The best
ndications of these districts are provided by Au, As, Sb and Se (Figs. 12,52a, b, c, and
).
An interesting variant of biogeochemistry based on the analysis of aquatic mosses
n drainage channels has been the subject of a number of studies, These suggest that
rese mosses might provide effective alternative geochemical sample media in areas
Aiere steep terrain prevented accumulation of stream sediment fine fractions. For
ixample, Erdman and Modreski (1984) found good correlation between the Cu and Co
2ta for aquatic moss and regular stream sediment samples in the vicinity of the Iron
C'eek stratabound Cu/Co occurrence in Lehmi County, Idaho. They concluded that in
re absence of stream sediment, aquatic mosses might be a suitable alternative
rconnaissance sample medium. Jones (1985) reached a similar conclusion following a
ady of the Au, Ag, As, Cd and Sb content of aquatic bryophytes from the Dolgellau gold
jstrict in North Wales, However, arsenic, rather then gold, appears to be the most
!ive pathfinder element for gold mineralization in this particular area. Other studies
'i/e been carried out for uranium in the northwestern U,S,A, (Shacklette and Erdman,
'382) and for base metals in Alaska (Smith, 1986).
144

62-30

6'30'
TT T"

6r

45*15

/
iftmiwnjrti, E*
/

45'15

10

45

GOLD

> J < /neaian


2-3 * meein
rS meflrin
< fnean (12ppbj

44''JS'
W)

44" as'

sam ph Site

es"'

62

62" 30

62'

5130

61"

61"

45" 15

45 15

45'

45"

44i5'

44 45

< mgijian dOppf"!


sample M

52*mFIG 12.52a&b

62

ei-aa-

61

Elements in ash of outer scales of spruce bark, Nova Scotia: (a) (above) gold, (b) (above)
arsenic, (c) (next page) antimony, (d) (next page) selenium (Dunn, 1989)

145

a5)fl

44ii5

62 30

FIG

45-I5'

45* 15'

44J!

- 44 45

12.52c&d

{Dunn,

1989)

146
Excellent reviews of recent developments in exploration
biogeochemistry are
provided by Dunn (1989 and 1991). Although it is now a little dated, a useful bibliography
on the use of plants in prospecting for gold was compiled by Erdman and Olson (1985).

12.2.7.

Water

The detection and interpretation of aqueous dispersion haloes in surface and


groundwaters related to mineralization form the basis of hydrogeochemical prospecting.
Geochemical surveys, especially regional reconnaissance based on water sampling offer
potential theoretical advantages in many environments (Table 12.5), especially in the case
of highly mobile elements such as uranium and zinc. However, where there are
alternative effective geochemical sample media (e.g. soils, stream sediments, etc.) these
commonly tend to be used in preference to water. This is due to certain potential
difficulties associated with geochemical exploration programs based on water samples,

in particular:
(i)
(ii)
(iii)
(iv)

relatively large samples generally required. These can present transportation


difficulties.
chemical instability of untreated samples;
the frequent need for ultra sensitive analytical methods;
the extreme sensitivity
of aqueous dispersion processes to a variety of interacting
J - g d>
9 J

environmental factors,
some
3* S
seasonal in nature and not all of
T3 0)- -t of which might be
= ?-sl 1
C o u -g >. n e
which will be necessarily
e (0
U J=
fl "O ? M 55
"X (Jrecognized.
Qk
SS3 co
n a
0

>o.ti
y
.
& >

1 -S
Water samples are generally
in clean acid rinsed 500 ml or 1000 ml
collected
i
?
M
=
3

2
k.
fti
1
5?
0
lU cj g
as these are"5more
than glass bottles under
% a s ?practical
E s B
polyethylene or polypropylene bottles
aCT" 0 u
field conditions. However, several Important trace metals are incorporated in plastics
during the manufacturing process and are often present in teachable form. This applies
(Q
particularly to zinc. 5Therefore
u
thorough cleaning prior to use iiisc arequired.
Prolonged
is. W
i 9
a. M nitric acids followed
in
50%
or
with
distilled or
soaking
hydrochloric
by repeated rinses
deionized water is recommended. Prior to sampling in the field the
bottles
should
be
3 O ffl E
rinsed seve P", r. nic ral times with the water to be sampled. Samples that are to be analyzed for
0
F G acidified to
trace eleme 3y viT 0)5 nts should
I
be
a> Enitric
u 41 or hydrochloric acid to
pH <2 with metal free
0) cl
Q
0
J3
Q i to
I uthe
S O from precipitating or adhering
walls. Turbid water
Q. 1; bottle
O. O
keep the di <0 IS V ssolved metals
3n g cu
should be
filtered using a 0.45 micron membrane before addition of the acid, otherwise
t V
0
When both trace and
leaching o
0* T f elements from the suspended sediment might occur.
major elements are to be determined, at least two samples must be collected so that
material without introduced cations and anions is available for the major element analysis.
In order to minimize growth of algae (Miller, 1979) in samples prior to analysis they should
be stored in a cool place away from sun light. If this is not possible, chloroform should
be added. pH, conductivity and certain other measurements are commonly made at the
sample site.

N.

'

S 2 S
5 "3 "w Hi
01 _w "Eo
i2 _iii_ 0u t, u
o XJ j;o"
0 s9
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C
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trl
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5

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t,
-
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1. oC -tE isS
S 2
? g'l l
3 --
-S ,s i

.=: =
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>> o ii -g 1.
B ,t 5 2 c>
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0 C J <- O*
c C
w
l|.C&S
=C5 " S "a i a
-n
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s Q A M

o>
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c 0
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t: = p'-
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=2111

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c
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fl2r -to "c
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s-?! 2
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11 =

L>i_ Ett_ 4j -J-i ~


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e
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ue
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="

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5
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=

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C - fl)C T20 "Q. N >?
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. w cQ >S
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5 S 5 E

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a
9

148

One the more effective applications of hydrogeochemistry has been in regiona:


reconnaissance programs based on lal<e water (and lake sediment) sampling, particularly
within the Canadian Precambrian Shield, but also within the Fennoscandian Shield anc
the Cordilleran and Appalachian regions of North America. As in the case of lake
sediment sampling the ideal terrain for this technique is where lakes are common.
conditions are swampy, and/or where stream drainages are inaccessible or poorly
developed (Coker et al., 1979). In low relief regions, the lake water medium is dependent
on the hydromorphic dispersion of metals into the lake environment through ground
waters. In areas with higher relief surface hydromorphic dispersion could also be an
important factor. An early example of a hydrogeochemical survey based on lake water
sampling was provided by Dyck et al. (1971) and Dyck (1979) in the course of a
experimental study of a variety of sample media over a 500 square mile area including the
Beaverlodge Uranium District in Saskatchewan. Surface lake water samples were
collected at an average density of 1.3 samples/ square mile. The resultant anomalous
uranium distribution patterns clearly outlined known uraniferous zones as well as
additional areas of potential interest (Figs. 12.53a and 12.53b). It was concluded that
organic sediments, bicarbonate and pH control the migration of U in the surface
environment. The presence of high organic concentrations severely restricted uranium
dispersion.
fBAEAt,

Regional reconnaissance for selected metals can also be achieved by sampling the
waters f actively flowing streams where metal is dispersing in solution. A prospecting
approach similar to the sampling of stream sediments is necessary. Sampling of ground
water seepage sites is an integral part of stream water surveys. In view of the paucity of
recently published examples of stream water sampling, it is again necessary to refer to
fairly old studies. For example Dyck et al. (1971) sampled stream water in addition to take
water (see above) in their experimental uranium exploration program in the
BeaverlodgeDistrict of Saskatchewan. Stream water (and stream sediment) samples were
collected at an average density of 1 sample/square mile. Sample temperature was
recorded at the sample site, whilst radon, pH and alkalinity were determined in a field
laboratory. The samples were then acidified and transported to a central laboratory for
uranium and other trace element analyses. Although the regional uranium distribution
patterns (Figs. 12.54a and 12.54b) were found to be broadly similar to those displayed
by the lake waters, it was concluded on economic grounds (i.e. ease of sample
collection) that the latter were the preferred sample medium.
Groundwater can also play a useful role in mineral exploration, especially when the
targets and large potential target hosts are obscured by post mineral overburden or
unmineralized bedrock, and target and/or associated pathfinder elements are mobile in
the prevailing groundwater environment. Interesting examples of the attempted
application of groundwater geochemistry in mineral exploration are provided by work
carried out by the U.S.G.S. (Huff, 1970), and various companies in the southwestern
U.S.A. in the 1960's and 1970's. Here the primary interest was in locating porphyry
copper deposits under pediment and alluvial sediment cover. The exploration technique

BEAVERiODGE.
5ASK.

CONGLOMERATE

CfAlWTE.
dRAw ite
GNEISS

AMPrt ieOLlT C

HiiiTAseDmEJjrs

RADIOACTIVE
mn. occ, , ..

FIG 12.53a

GRANJTE.

Regional uranium concentration levels in lake waters


(a) with and (b) without contaminated samples.
(Dyck et al.. 1971)

0EAVERLODG,
S AS K.

t:>-|BASAU
C ONG LOME RAT E

GRAMlTE,
granitegneiss

AMfhiaOLITE

METASEPmEMTS

radioactive
MIN- pCC,

FIG 12.53b

(Dycl< et al. 1971)

150

beaverlooce,
SAS+.

Ibasal
VjCONOLOMERATe
GAANITEGMCiSS
AWPHIBOLTe
MCTASgCjMENTS

loUARTZtTC
j WIGMATITC
(li me stone

RAOiOAC
MN. OCC.T(VE

FIG 12,54a

(a) Radon and (b) uranium concentration levels in


stream waters without contaminated samples (Dyck
at al., 1971)

beaverlodge.
SASK,

BASAt
CONLOMCRATC

GRAhTE.
QRANire
iSNESS
AMHISOLITC

MgTASEQJMCMTS
OUAfiTZfTE
M(CMATITE
Ilimstonc

AOOACTIVE
UIN CC

FIG 12.54b

(Dyck at al, 1971)

151
vas based on the known mobility of molybdenum, a significant component of most
zorphyt7 copper deposits, in the neutral to alkaline conditions prevalent in local
groundwater. Samples were generally collected from domestic and irrigation wells, and
atural springs. Early results, as for example in the Pima Mining District, showed
anomalous molybdenum was indeed present in the groundwaters around known deposits
e.g. Fig. 12.55) and elsewhere, but the anomalies were so large (i.e. tens or even
~;-uiiftf<jbi3i"si:|uarfeTrtiej*1[rTi source location in routine surveys was not apparently
economically feasible. In addition, anomalous contrast appeared to often correlate with
total dissolved solids, a feature presumably unrelated to mineralization. Later studies by
~'OSt and Trautwein (1975) indeed found molybdenum concentration in groundwater to
correlate strongly with conductivity (an indirect measure of total dissolved solids), weakly
vrth pH and not at a!! with Eh (Fig. 12.56). On theoretical grounds they concluded that
ris reflected a relationship between the solubility of molybdate salts, such as CaMoO,
zje to an increase in ionic strength and corresponding decrease of the activity
3cefficients. They suggested utilizing the ratio of log [Mo/K] in conjunction with a plot of
og [Mo/K] vs. log [Mo] to determine the proximity of a buried oxidizing porphyry copper
zeposit. The possibility of applying sophisticated hydrogeochemlcal models to mineral
fxploration purposes was discussed by Runnells and Lindberg (1981). They determined
Tat the saturation index is a reliable indicator of the presence of uranium mineralization,

rut the requirement for reliable


rrfficulties in routine surveys.

'2.2.8.

Eh

measurements

could

present

certain

practical

Gases

Under certain conditions, mineral deposits produce gaseous emanations which can
ze detected by specialized measurements. There are two broad categories of soil gas
sampling technique:
(i) instantaneous;
(ii) integrated.
//h the instantaneous method, specific volumes of soil gas are extracted through a
3nDbe, from some predetermined optimal depth which is normally somewhere in the range
zr 20 to 40 inches (50 to 100 cm). These can then be either:
(i)

analyzed on site by a field instrument (e.g. CO and analyzers or one of


the new generation of portable micro gas chromatographs). Mobile mass
spectrographic systems, such as that used by Howard McCarthy of the
U.S.G.S., should probably be classified more as research systems at this
time in view of high capital and operating cost as well as interpretational
uncertainties:

(ii)

or placed in a special container for transportation to an analytical laboratory


(e.g. Barringer Technique, etc.);

153

20oH

set A
U ; i tI'M '

"
t.

Eh
0-

(b)

log K

OB

12

1.6

log [Mo], ppb

RG 12.56

Correlation

plots for groundwaters in southern Arizona; (a) pH vs. log [Mo],


suggesting a slight correlation between the molybdenurr content and pH; (b) Eh vs.
log [Mo], showing poor correlation between molybdenum content and Eh; (c) log K
vs. log [Mo], suggesting a good correlation between increasing conductivity and
increasing molybdenum content. (Trost and Trautwein, 1975)

154

(iii)

or adsorbed onto a special collector material


laboratory for analysis.

and transported to

The main potential problem with the instantaneous methods is that they are subject to a"

'
short term gas flux variability which might occur. This could prove particularly serious
large surveys during periods of climatic instability. Instantaneous methods are als:
inappropriate when dealing with gases occurring in concentrations at or near \lr
detection limits of the available analytical equipment. The main advantage of th'S
instantaneous methods is that they only entail one visit to the sample site.
With the integrated method of soil gas sampling, special adsorbent or reactive
material, including molecular sieves or porous polymer sorbents (e.g. Clifton, 1984a ar:
1984b, etc.), or activated carbon (e.g. "Petrex" system), is buried in the soil at eac
sampling site for specific periods of time (generally for several weeks). At the end of th;=
time the collectors are recovered and sent to the laboratory for analysis. Alternatively, us
can be made of natural soil gas collectors, including specific soil fractions (e.g. clays
"Advol" system). The main potential advantage of the integration methods of soil gas
sampling is that results are unlikely to be influenced by short term fluctuations in the so
gas flux. However, two visits to each sample site are required, except in the case of ti-re
natural soil collectors. A problem with some of the collector systems (i.e. molcula*
sieves) is that gas desorption in the laboratory requires heating to very high temperatures
which will likely modify the nature of some of the volatile species.
Much of the published information on the application of gas geochemistry '
mineral exploration relates to research and orientation studies. However, numerous
geochemical gas surveys were carried out some years ago during the last uraniu"
"boom". These were mainly concerned with measurement of radon produced during t
radioactive decay of uranium and radium. Although some radon in stream and lake watestudies were undertaken (e.g. Dyck et al., 1971), most of the programs were based or
integrated measurements of radon in soil gases. Some of the better known procedures
(e.g. "Track Etch") use detectors which respond to alpha particles emitted during rado
decay (e.g. Gingrich, 1984). The "Track Etch" procedure utilizes small pieces of radiatio'
sensitive film. These are processed in an etching solution to provide visible track-like
images of the alpha particles which can then be counted to provide an indication of the
average amount of radon present during the exposure time (Fig. 12.57). Later versiorts
include plastic filters to prevent exposure of the detectors to thoron. In "Track Etcf
surveys the integrative detectors are buried at shallow depth (i.e. normally around 0.5 r
in inverted plastic cups (Fig. 12.58) and left for a specific period of time. In the BakeLake area in Northern Canada (Fuchs et al., 1982) cups were buried for the full winteseason at 100 ft intervals along traverses with 200 ft separation. The unusually lone
exposure produced improved results over those obtained with detectors left in place fo'
shorter periods during the summer. Follow-up of several high contrast anomalies
resulted in the discovery of the Lone Gull Uranium Deposits (Fig. 12.59).

A LP H A

TRACKS RETAINED

PARTtCLE

FIG 12.57

FIG 12.58

156

The Track Etch P rocess .


(Gingrich, 1974)

Track Etch S a m p t e Cup.


(Gingrich. 1974)

FIG 12.59

Radon contour map of the Lone Gull U discovery.

(Gingrich, t984)

minerals which can include sphalerite and other sulfides, ofter


during oxidation. This vapor can be measured in soil gas directly
integrative collectors which are analyzed in the laboratory) or
released from conventional soil samples by heating to 210-390F
(100-2CI0''C) (Landa, 1978). Over the past twenty or so years there have been many
studies of the possible application of mercury vapor surveys to mineral exploration, but
the published results have often been poorly documented and frequently inconclusive.
Fedikow and Amor (1990) recently described their evaluation of commercially available
mercury detectors (i.e. "Aurex") following test studies at a number of Canadian mineral
deposits. The detector consists of a thin silver wire in an open ended glass vial (Fig.
12.60). These are buried in overburden at a depth of 40 cm (Fig. 12.61) for a period of
32 days. They concluded that the system does not measure mercury in soil gas in a
consistent manner in proximity to mercury enriched base and precious metal deposits in
the rest areas.
Mercury-bearing
release mercury vapor
(i.e. generally using
adsorbed Hg can be

The oxidation of moist sulfides leads to the generation of CS and COS (Taylor, et
al., 1982). Oakes and Hale (1987) describe an experimental exploration technique basec
on the selective thermal desorption of COS from the <150 micron fraction of overburden
materials and quantitative determination by a rapid gas chromatographic method. At
Johnson Camp, Arizona the surface microlayer of the soil was sampled on 30x60 m grid.
Analysis disclosed distinct COS anomalies over suboutcropping sediment hostec
replacement sphalerite/chalcopyrite mineralization despite the presence of considerable
thicknesses of pediment gravel and alluvium (Fig. 12.62). Elsewhere comparable

-ADHESIVE
PLASTIC

PLASTIC
Q L A$S VIAL
( r em o ved during
H g- va oou r collection)

FIG 1 2. 6 0.

TAB

CUP

of the Aurex
C o mpo ne n t s
integrative detector.
(Feciikow
1990)

CAP

DETECTOR
(silver wire)

Hg-vapour
and Amor,

STfilP

FIG

1 2. 6 1 .

158

Schematic
of Hg-vapour
representation
me a su r e me n t utilizing the Aurex detector
(Fedikow and Amor, 1990)

anomalies were delineated over


<3 >00 >0C<
sulphide mineralizations covered by a
variety transported overburden,
sometimes exceeding 90 m thickness
F~n 2QO-300{>g/o COS
im 500pQ/g COI3
and ranging from arid highly porous
sand and gravel to moist, clay-rich
glacial atill.sample probe and transported them in special containers to a laboratory for anal
ys;
Because of the consumption of
oxygen in the oxidation process, the
atmospheric proportions of COgiOg
change in the vicinity of oxidizing
sulfides and these imbalances can be
Zone 1
in
soil
measured
the
gas (Lovell, et al,,
Reid
Lovell
and
1983).
(1989) used
this approach in northern Arizona to
evaluate the subsurface potential for
structurally controlled mineralization in
82 collapse breccias. They collected a
little under 5000 soil gas samples with

FIG 12.62

Plan of simplified geology and COS


dispersion pattern in surface microlayci"
at Johnson Camp, Arizona. (Oakes arc
Hale, 1987)

;c
the
of
buried
accumulations
was
sulfide
by gas chromatography. Although
presence
found to be reflected by strong CO2 anomalies {Fig. 12.63). these anomalies were
extremely sensitive to climatic change (e.g. rainfall). In recent years COg and Og in so?
gas surveys have also been applied in a number of exploration programs for sedimert
hosted gold deposits in the western U.S.A. These surveys have reportedly resulted in the
determination of lithology changes, location of faults and the presence of alteration
beneath transported overburden (Jaacks, 1989).
Recent studies in Sweden (Malmqvistet al., 1986) have identified an upward fluxinc
of GEOGAS in the near-surface sections of the earth. This GEOGAS enters the grounc
waters as dissolved air. The circulating meteoric waters and changing pressure
conditions in the subsurface cause the GEOGAS to rise as small streaming bubbles. The
bubbles contain other gases and can also collect metallic ions and particles that can be
trapped in collectors set out in the surface soil. Anomalous patterns in GEOGAS have

been recorded over mineralization buried under thicknesses up to 100 ft (30 m) of


transported cover.
It should be noted that biogenic activity in the soil can produce methane (OHJ.
hydrogen (Hg), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen sulfide (HgS), dimethyl sulfide ((CH3)2S),
dimethyl disulfide ((CH3)2S2), methyl mercaptan (CH3SH), carbonyl sulfide (COS)anc
carbon disulfide (CSg) (Taylor, et al., 1982). Therefore, near-surface detection of these
gases can be suspect. Methane is found at depth in several types of mines, but s
genetic association with mineralization is not always clear.
159

FIG 12.63

Cpj content of soil air over


mineralized breccia pipe, Arizona.
(Lovell and Reid, 1989)

A recent volume of the Journal of Geochemicai Exploration (Kesler, 1990) provides


a useful review of a number of soil- and rock-gas geochemistry studies.
12.2.9.

Particulates

Solid particles down to the size range of large molecules are present in the
atmosphere. Weiss (1971) developed an airborne geochemicai prospecting technique
for arid terrain based on the collection of dust particles suspended in the atmosphere.
The AIRTRACE and SURTRACE techniques of Barringer Research Ltd. were designed to
sample a variety of particulates in the lower atmosphere including spores, pollen, dust,
microorganisms, organometallics, and hydrocarbon complexes. The collected particulates
*6re analyzed using a laser pulse/inductively coupled plasma spectrometry (ICP)
p-ocedure in the laboratory. The same airborne platform could be equipped with a
-mercury sensor for real-time measurements. According to the Barringer organization
AIRTRACE was successful in sensing gas and oil resources and produced positive results

ever mineral deposits. Reproducibility of the technique in the search for mineral deposits
hampered by variable weather conditions and temperature inversions. The
SURTRACE method was designed to overcome these climatic problems by sampling
160

<s
k.

5-

01 horizon

o
a

}\ A1 horizon

4-

a
o

3-

glacial tllf
_60
meters

FIG 12.64

old vein
cranlttc host rock

gold voin

20

Plot of log B. cereus (colony forming units/gram of soil) in


;\jand B horizon soils
and
to
In
veins
the
overlying
Au-quartz
adjacent
Empire Mining District, Colorado
Parduhn
and
(from
Watterson, 1984). (Parduhn, 1987)

particulate matter from the ground surface (i.e. microlayer) using a helicopter-based or
manually transported system. Despite the fact they have been available for a numtjer
ofyears neither method has yet been used extensively in routine metallic minera
exploration programs. AIRTRACE was used in some large scale hydrocarbon surveys
in the 1980's.
12.2.10.

Microorganisms

Parduhn and Watterson (1984) and Parduhn et al. (1985) have demonstrated tha
the population of the common microorganism, Bacillus cereus, increases with natura
increases in the base and precious metal content of soils in the vicinity of known minera
deposits. It has also been noted that the increased antibiotic resistance of these bactera
correlates with increased metal concentrations in soils (Watterson et al., 1986). On the
basis of very limited sampling Parduhn and Watterson (1984) reported anomalous Bacillus
cereus populations over quartz/gold/sulfide veins, overlain by 15-20 feet of glada
overburden, near Empire, Colorado (Fig. 12.64). However, earlier work by Curtin, et a.

161

f1971), determined that although the B horizon soils were not particularly effective sam
ple
"ledia in this district, the Au, Cu and Bi content of the forest humus layer (mull) dear
ly
efine the mineralized veins. Ttius no particular advantage appears to be provided by
the
Bacillus cereus data in this example. The same appears to be true in certain other t
est
ireas (e.g. Vista Pit area, Mesquite Deposit, Imperial County, California) studied by
=arduhn (1987).
An interesting alternative approach to the possible application of microbiology to
mineral exploration is discussed by Michaels and Riese (1986), They sug
gest
determination of the metal tolerance of bacteria by the addition of suitable met
al
ancentrations to culture media prepared from stream sediment, stream vi/ater, and
organisms on stream water surfaces. Peliminary data indicate bacteria populations are
more metal tolerant in mineralized areas.
IVIineral exploration methods based on microbiological features are still in their
rfancy and should be approached with extreme caution.
12.2.11. Animal Tissues
Animal tissues have not been used extensively as a geochemical medium. Warr
en
St

al. (1971) analyzed 96 trout livers from locations in British Columbia and identified

a
general correlation between the zinc and copper contents of these livers and known

Tiineral regions. As part of an environmental monitoring program, the government of


Ontario has sampled fish tissues for their mercury content. Recent work has investiga
ted
the use of the trace element content of bee pollen as an exploration tool. Variations
in
concentrations were noted showing a general relationship with known mineralization, b
ut
follow-up is complicated by the territorial wandering of the insects.