Research reveals sweet spot for gold

AusLAMP instruments deployed in the field in New South Wales in April 2021.

A team of researchers led by Geoscience Australia has made it easier for explorers to find gold, by uncovering previously unknown patterns in global geology that can be used to explore for gold deposits.

In the results published in the journal Nature Science Reportsresearchers from Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future program, the University of Adelaide and the United States Geological Survey have for the first time compared magnetotelluric data from across Australia, North and South America and China.

The Exploring for the Future program’s chief science adviser, Dr Karol Czarnota, said that like a live-wire detector, magneto-telluric instruments could identify Earth’s natural electrical conductors tens to hundreds of kilometers away. beneath the Earth’s surface, which are sometimes linked to copper, gold and associated critical mineral deposits.

“Through this analysis, we have discovered that we can identify areas of exploration using statistics to scan the entire tectonic plate and identify conductors that have the greatest potential to be associated with mineral deposits” , did he declare.

“This is the first time we have identified statistically robust global information of this type, which images source regions of minerals deep in the crust and identifies favorable areas for exploration.

“In short, our findings indicate that there is a ‘sweet spot’ for gold discovery. This information will make it easier for gold explorers to zoom in on potential new terrain. It could even be used to open up new mining provinces across Australia, sparking a modern gold rush.

“This information could also help find other vital resources such as copper, tellurium, antimony and other critical minerals used in alloys and electrification.”

The article also sheds light on the source of gold in orogenic gold deposits – deposits formed in mountain building areas.

“We learned that the gold in orogenic gold deposits most likely comes from the middle to lower part of the earth’s crust, as opposed to the even deeper layer of the earth, the mantle. This answers the question of where the gold came from in the deposits that helped build cities like Ballarat and Bendigo,” Czarnota said.

The research drew on data from the Australian Lithospheric Architecture Magnetotelluric Project (AusLAMP), which is a partnership between Geoscience Australia, state and territory geological surveys, AuScope and universities to acquire magnetotelluric data on the continent Australian.

So far, the national AusLAMP project has modeled the underlying geology of more than 2.5 million square kilometers across Australia, revealing electrical conductors and resistances that extend deep below the Earth’s surface .

“We know that 80% of the Australian continent is ‘covered’ – meaning that some of the best geological resources containing minerals, energy and groundwater are hidden under a cover of younger sediments,” Czarnota said.

“Magneto-tellurics is one of the few techniques that allows you to ‘see’ through this cover. This technology is a powerful tool for mining exploration – by using it, we essentially learn to read nature. »

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