A hydrogeochemical study using high resolution ICP-MS was undertaken at the giant Pebble porphyry Cu-Au-Mo deposit and surrounding mineral occurrences. Surface water and groundwater samples from regional background and the deposit area were collected at 168 sites. Rigorous quality control reveals impressive results at low nanogram per litre (ng/l) levels. Sites with pH values below 5.1 are from ponds in the Pebble West area, where sulphide-bearing rubble crop is thinly covered. Relative to other study area waters, anomalous concentrations of Cu, Cd, K, Ni, Re, the REE, Tl, SO42− and F are present in water samples from Pebble West. Samples from circum-neutral waters at Pebble East and parts of Pebble West, where cover is much thicker, have anomalous concentrations of Ag, As, In, Mn, Mo, Sb, Th, U, V, and W. Low-level anomalous concentrations for most of these elements were also found in waters surrounding nearby porphyry and skarn mineral occurrences. Many of these elements are present in low ng/l concentration ranges and would not have been detected using traditional quadrupole ICP-MS. Hydrogeochemical exploration paired with high resolution ICP-MS is a powerful new tool in the search for concealed deposits.

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