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This discussion is therefore restricted to geological, geochemical and drilling methods. Geological Methods:. Geological maps provide exploration agencies or companies with regional geological and geophysical information so that target areas that are consided to have a better prospect in terms of mineral deposits may be identified.

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The cost of undertaking geological surveys, many of which will not prove to be prospective, is high. Geological surveys provide exploration and mining companies with pre-competitive geoscientific data that is designed to encourage the company to undertake further exploration. Geological methods rely on the identification of rocks and minerals and an understanding of the environment in which they formed.

These surveys aim to find what rock types occur at or close to the surface and how these rock types are related to each other i.

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Based on known "environments for mineralisation" or models for mineralisation, regional geological surveys can be used to define smaller areas in which more detailed studies can be undertaken. Geochemical Methods. Geochemical methods involve the measurement of the chemistry of the rock, soil, stream sediments or plants to determine abnormal chemical patterns, which may point to areas of mineralisation. When a mineral deposit forms, the concentration of the ore "metals" and a number of other elements in the surrounding rocks is usually higher than normal.

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These patterns are known as primary chemical halos. When a mineral deposit is exposed to surface processes, such as weathering and erosion, these elements become further distributed in the soil, groundwater, stream sediments or plants and this pattern is called a secondary chemical halo. Secondary halos aid in the search for deposits as they normally cover a greater area and therefore the chance of a chemical survey selecting a sample from these areas is greater than from a primary halo area.

Different elements have different "mobility" in the environment which is based on. Subsequently, the secondary halo may not contain the "metal" for which a geochemical survey is searching but other "marker" elements. Drilling is used to obtain very detailed information about rock types, mineral content, rock fabric and the relationships between rock layers close to the surface and at depth.

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The same story repeated at Bendigo, Ballarat, Klondike and California. In the United States and Canada prospectors were lured by the promise of gold , silver , and other precious metals. They traveled across the mountains of the American West , carrying picks, shovels and gold pans. The majority of early prospectors had no training and relied mainly on luck to discover deposits.

In all cases, the gold rush was sparked by idle prospecting for gold and minerals which, when the prospector was successful, generated 'gold fever' and saw a wave of prospectors comb the countryside.

Geochemical Methods of Prospecting for Non-Metallic Minerals

Knowledge of previous prospecting in an area helps in determining location of new prospective areas. Prospecting includes geological mapping , rock assay analysis, and sometimes the intuition of the prospector. Metal detectors are invaluable for gold prospectors, as they are quite effective at detecting gold nuggets within the soil down to around 1 metre 3 feet , depending on the acuity of the operator's hearing and skill.


Magnetic separators may be useful in separating the magnetic fraction of a heavy mineral sand from the nonmagnetic fraction, which may assist in the panning or sieving of gold from the soil or stream. Prospecting pickaxes are used to scrape at rocks and minerals , obtaining small samples that can be tested for trace amounts of ore. Modern prospecting pickaxes are also sometimes equipped with magnets , to aid in the gathering of ferromagnetic ores. Prospecting pickaxes are usually equipped with a triangular head, with a very sharp point.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Many techniques of the old-time prospector, such as panning streams for gold, were rudimentary geochemical exploration methods, but systematic chemical surveys of soil and plants were initially attempted in Scandinavia and the USSR in the late s and s. Major application started in the s, led by Skip to main content Skip to table of contents. Geochemistry Edition.

Geochemical Methods of Prospecting for Non-Metallic Minerals

Contents Search. Geochemical exploration. How to cite. This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. Burnham, C. Mining Geol.

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