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Introduction

Geological prospecting
Discipline and methodologies used for, to locate valuable
mineral deposits, the ore bodies, or to locate their extensions.
Most mineral are buried, seldom occur at the surface
and are rarely obvious.
Therefore we must detect their presence indirectly
and extrapolate between the points where data is known.

Introduction

Exploration for a mineral deposit progresses through stages.


Each stage is closer to making a valuation of the ore body.
The prospecting is the earliest stage
The most important techniques used in geological prospecting
include:
geological field methods,
geochemical methods,
geophysical methods.

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Geochemical Exploration

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Geochemical Exploration

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Following surface exploration drilling stage

Introduction

Mineralization can be subtle or impossible to recognize, in


hand specimen or it can be located deep.

The geochemical methods allows the discovering of


concealed ore deposits by measuring the concentration

Geochemical Exploration

of chemical elements in geological materials.


After discovery the ore deposit, geochemistry plays a key
role in the delineation of mineralization.

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Geochemical Exploration

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Geochemical Exploration

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09/01/2017

Introduction

EXPLORATION GEOLOGY TERMS

Ore: the rock material or minerals which are mined for a profit.
Ore Minerals: the specific minerals within the ore which contain the metals to be recovered.
Gangue Minerals: the minerals having no commercial value, they just happen to be mixed up with the ore
minerals.
Prospect: potential ore deposit, based on preliminary exploration.
Mine: Excavation for the extraction of mineral deposits, either at the surface (open pit mine) or below
(underground mine).
Orebody or Ore Deposit: naturally occurring materials from which a mineral or minerals of economic value
can be recovered at a reasonable profit.
Mineral Deposit: similar to an ore deposit, but is implied to be subeconomic or incompletely evaluated at
present.
Mineral Occurrence: anomalous concentration of minerals, but is uneconomic at present.
Grade: this means the concentration of the substance of interest, usually stated in terms of weight per unit
volume.
Cut-off Grade: the lower limit of concentration acceptable for making a profit when mining.
Host Rock: the rock lithology (type) which contains the ore. May or may not comprise ore.
Country Rocks: the rocks of no commercial value surrounding the host rocks and/or the ore.
Anomalous: above or below the range of values considered to be normal.

Geochemistry
Distribution and migration of the chemical elements and their
isotopes between the Earth geochemical reservoirs.

Geochemical Exploration

Petrogenesis and evolution of igneous, metamorphic


and sedimentary rocks
Study of other solar system bodies
Genesis and distribution of mineral deposits

Except for
sedimentary rocks
the concern, is with
the endogenous
processes

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Applied Geochemistry
Geochemical Exploration
Environmental Geochemistry

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Geochemical Exploration

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Geochemical Exploration

Natural contamination
Pollution
Geochemical Cartography
Epidemiology (Medical Geology)

The concern is
with the
exogenous
processes

Geochemical Exploration
To find the pattern of the dispersion of the elements in a
geological material or region and, on those pattern,
to find the geochemical anomalies related with the
existence of mineral deposits.
Collection of materials in the field,
Laboratory (or field) analysis of the geochemistry,
Plotting of the geochemical values on maps,
Interpretation of the results.

Geochemical Exploration
Prospecting method based on the systematic measure of
contents of chemical elements on the geological materials
soils

Geochemical Exploration

stream sediments & alluvium

Sampling
media

surface & groundwater


rocks & mineral separates
soil & air gases &particulates
plants

Geochemical Exploration

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Geochemical Exploration

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Geochemical Exploration

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Geochemical Exploration
Which elements are chosen for analysis depends on :
the geology of the area,
the budget,
the commodity which is being sought after
laboratory facilities
There are specific elements or suites of elements which are known
to be associated with specific types of mineralization.
evaluate the potential for the existence of certain
types of mineralization by evaluating
which elements are associated in a given area.

Geochemical Exploration
The geochemical environment determines
the stability of minerals (rocks) and fluids in a given point.
The geochemical environments on Earth are grossly two:
deep-seated
superficial
High T
low T
High P
low P
Low PO2
High PO2
Low fluids circulation
free and high H2O, CO2, O2

Geochemical Exploration
deep-seated
Primary
Hypogenic
Endogenic

superficial
not synonymous

secondary
supergenic
exogenic

Geochemical cycle
movement of materials from one environment to the other
The material does not maintains its identity on the geochemical
cycle: it is redistributed, fractionated and mixed dispersion

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Geochemical Exploration

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Geochemical Exploration

satge

Geochemical Exploration

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Theoretical concepts

Primary dispersion emplacement of elements


during the formation of the deposit
Secondary dispersion redistribuition of the primary patterns
by a latter process (usually, but not allways) at surface

Geochemical Exploration
Types of dispersion
According to agent

a)Chemical/biochemical fractionation
b)Mechanical no fractionation

According to local

c)Profound /deep-seated
d)Superficial

According to mineral
deposit formation

e)Primary- occurs during the formation


f)Secondary- occurs after the formation

Geochemical Exploration
The dispersion halos occupy an area much larger than the deposit.
The density sampling needed to discover the deposit is lower.

Geochemical Exploration

Also the distribution patterns in normal rocks is also needed


so the anomalous patterns due to the ore body can be found
The mobility of an element determines
how easily it is dispersed in relation with the others elements

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Geochemical Exploration
Dispersion in deep-seated environment
Cations enter the crystal lattice according to their Z and ionic radius

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Geochemical Exploration

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Geochemical Exploration

If an aqueous fluid is separated from the melt, certain elements


are fractionated to that phase, as they became very mobile
H2O, CO2, H2S, SO2, F, Cl, B, Cu, Zn, Pb, Au, Sb, As, Mo, etc. will be
deposited (immobilized) forming a mineral deposit.

Geochemical Exploration
Dispersion in deep-seated environment
Related with Kd (partition coefficient)
Kd depends on thermodynamic conditions between the melt and the
precipitating crystals which are affect by: ionic sizes, ionic charges,
coordination and type of bounding.
These can be combined
in a index of replacement
Minerals with similar index
tend to substitute each other

Geochemical Exploration
Dispersion in deep-seated environment
The stability of an element in a mobile phase may be affected by
complex formation, made up of various ions or molecules.
Ex: MoO42- CuCl2- ZnCl42- Hg(HS)3-

Geochemical Exploration

Variation in the concentration of the complexion ion strongly influences the


mobility of the element
In the metamorphism the H2O is a mobile phase which strongly influence
the mobility of metals which will be deposit when the thermodynamic
conditions change

Geochemical Exploration

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Geochemical Exploration

Soluble as simple cations

Dispersion in
superficial environment.
Transport by water and
the mobility
is given by the ionic potential -
(= ionic charge/ionic radius).
Transition elements like Fe, Cr, Cu and Ag tend to be
less soluble than others with similar
Also the valence also modifies the mobility (Ex. Fe)

Soluble oxyanions

Geochemical Exploration
Relative mobility

Dispersion in
superficial environment.

Geochemical Exploration

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Geochemical Exploration

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Oxidizing (pH 5-8)

Oxidizing (pH<4)

Reducing

Cl, Br, I, S, Rn, He,


Cl, Br, I, S, Rn, Cl, Br, I, Rn,
Strongly mobile C, N, Mo, B, (Se,
He, C, N, B
He
Te, Re)
Moderately
mobile

Ca, Na, Mg, Sr,


Ca, Na, Mg, Li, F,
Ca, Na, Mg,
Li, F, Zn, Cd, Hg,
Zn, Ag, U, V, As,
Li, Sr, Ba, Ra,
Cu, Ag, Co, Ni,
(Sr, Hg, Sb)
F, Mn
U, V, As, Mn, P

Slightly mobile

K, Rb, Ba, Mn, Si,


Ge, P, Pb, Cu, Ni, K, Rb, Ba, Si, K, Rb, Si, P,
Co, (Cd, Be, Ra, Ge, Ra
Fe
In, W)

Immobile

Fe, Al, Ga,


Fe, Al, Ga, Sc, Ti,
Ti, Zr, Hf,
Zr, Hf, Th, Pa, Sn,
Pa,
Sn,
TR, EGP, Au, (Cr,
EGP, Au,
Nb, Ta, Bi, Cs)
Mo, Se

Fe, Al, Ga, Sc,


Ti, Zr, Hf, Th,
Pa, Sn, TR,
Sc,
EGP, Au, Cu,
Th,
Ag, Pb, Zn,
TR,
Cd, Hg, Ni,
As,
Co, As, Sb,
Bi, U, V, Se,
Te, Mo, In, Cr,
(Nb, Ta, Cs)

Geochemical Exploration
The mobility is mainly controlled by pH
pH
2.9
3-5
6.8- 8.0
(SO42- +230 mg/L)
7.0

mobility
Zn>Cu>Pb
Zn>Cu>Pb
Zn>Pb ~Cu
Zn>Pb>Cu

Example
In a chalcopyrite, sphalerite and galena, with Au
mineral deposit: in its alteration zone
1) Au stays in the gossan
2) Galena, will decompose slowly and will give
anglesite and cerusite which are immobile
so Pb will stay in the gossan
Chalcopyrite and sphalerite are easily decomposed
to the lower zones of the gossan or they can be
transporte by water

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Geochemical Exploration
Group

Generally associated
elements

Geochemical Exploration

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Geochemical Exploration

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Geochemical Exploration

Plutonic rocks
General association
(lithophile elements)
Specific associations
Felsic igneous rocks
Alkaline igneous rocks
Mafic igneous rocks
Ultramafic rocks

Association
K-Rb
Ca-Sr
Al-Ga
Si-Ge
Zr-Hf
Nb-Ta
REE, Y
Pt-Ru-Rh-Pd-Os-Ir

Pathfinders

Group
Some pegamtitic
differentiates
Contact metassomatic
Si-Al-Fe-Mg-Ca-Na-K-Ti-Mndeposits
Zr-Hf-Th-U-B-Be-Li-Sr-Ba-P-V- K-feldspar
Cr-Sn-Ga-Nb-Ta-W- F-Cl-Br-I- Other K minerals
Ferromagnesian minerals
REE
Sedimentary rocks
Fe-oxides
Si-K-Na
Mn-oxides
Al-Na-Zr-Ti-Nb-Ta-F-P-TR
Phosphorites

Fe-Mg-Ti-V
Mg-Fe-Cr-Ni-Co

black shales

Geochemical Exploration
pathfinder

Association
Li-Be-B-Rb-Cs-TR-Nb-Ta-UTh
Mo-W-Sn
K-Ba-Pb
K-Na-Rb-Cs-Tl
Fe-Mg-Mn-Cu-Zn-Co-Ni
Fe-As-Co-Ni-Se
Mn-As-Ba-Co-Mo-Ni-V-Zn
P-Ag-Mo-Pb-F-U
Al-Ag-As-Au-Bi-Cd-Mo-Ni-PbSb-V-Zn

Pathfinders

Sampled material

Ore type

Wallrock, residual soil,


stream sediment

Vein-type Au ore

Hg

Wallrock and soil

Complex Pb-Zn-Ag ores

Se

Gossan, residual soil

epigenetic sulphides

Ag

residual soil

Ag-beraing Au ore

Mo

Water, stream sediment,


soil

Porphyry-copper deposits

SO4

Warter

Sulphide deposits

As

Geochemical Exploration
Exercise
As is considered a pathfinder for Au, but the chemical method we have in our laboratory is not very
accurate for As, but it is well accurate for Cu. In the region of prospecting, the gold mineralization
is accompanied by chalcopirite, so it is worth to find if Cu can be used as a pathfinder for Au.
So, 20 samples were collected in a orientation survey and where analysed in a commercial laboratory
for As, Au and Cu.
The data are given in table 1

We must calculate the correlation coefficient between As-Au and Au-Cu and to find if there are
are significant differences