Case Histories I - Geochemical exploration in Shield Terrain
Published:January 01, 2001
This paper is an overview of drift exploration methods for lode Au deposits in areas of thin and thick cover of glacial sediments within the Abitibi Greenstone Belt of central Canada. It summarizes a large volume of data produced by government regional surveys and case studies as well as that from industry-led gold exploration programs. Regional till surveys can be used as targeting mechanisms for further Au exploration. Anomalies are defined by a series of samples with elevated Au concentrations that lie along significant bedrock structures, occurring in clusters or as isolated samples in areas of low sample density. Thresholds between background and anomalous Au grain abundances or Au concentrations are variable and depend on location within the Abitibi Greenstone Belt. Case studies around known deposits provide examples of geochemical and mineralogical signatures of Au deposits that can be expected in till down-ice. These serve as sources of information on appropriate sampling methods and size fractions to analyse, and on ice flow patterns, local glacial stratigraphy and suitable till units for sampling. Two methods for measuring the Au content of till are commonly used: (1) a count of visible Au grains and (2) geochemical elemental analysis. Close to source, till contains thousands to hundreds of thousands ppb Au and several hundred Au grains. The Au grains vary from coarse sand to silt sizes and have pristine shapes. The presence of high Au concentrations in till indicates that the ore zones subcrop and that glacial processes have produced Au dispersal trains down-ice.
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Drift Exploration in Glaciated Terrain
This volume describes the use of till geochemical and indicator mineral methods for mineral exploration in glaciated terrain of Canada. The principles and examples described in this volume wil have direct applications for exploration companies and prospectors exploring for diamonds, precious and base metals and uranium in glaciated parts of North America, northern Europe and Asia and mountainous regions of South America.
The first two papers in this volume provide an introduction to glaciated terrain and the two styles of glaciation that have affected the world, continental glaciers in broad flat lying Shield areas and alpine glaciers in mountainous terrain. Sampling techniques are described next, followed by an introduction to the use of heavy minerals. Heavy mineral methodss have become an important exploration tool in glaciated terrain for gold and base metals and, in the last ten years, for diamonds. Lake sediments and biogeochemical methods are also included in this volume as a complement to geochemical and indicator mineral methods in glaciated terrain. A chapter on GIS has been included because data interpretation and display are important and essential parts of any regional or detailed geochemical survey. The remainder of the volume is case studies for the three main glaciated terrain tyes in Canada: Shield, Appalachia and Cordillera