Biogeochemistry in Mineral Exploration

Biogeochemistry in Mineral Exploration

1st Edition - July 11, 2007

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  • Author: Colin Dunn
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080546490

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Significant refinements of biogeochemical methods applied to mineral exploration have been made during more than twenty years since the last major publication on this technique. This innovative, practical and comprehensive text is designed as a field handbook and an office reference volume. It outlines the historical development of biogeochemical methods applied to mineral exploration, and provides details of what, how, why and when to collect samples from all major climatic environments with examples from around the world. Recent commercialization of sophisticated analytical technology permits immensely more insight into the multi-element composition of plants. In particular, precise determination of ultra-trace levels of ‘pathfinder’ elements in dry tissues and recognition of element distribution patterns with respect to concealed mineralization. Data handling and interpretation are discussed in context of a wealth of previously unpublished information, including a section on plant mineralogy, much of which has been classified as confidential until recently. Data are provided on the biogeochemistry of more than 60 elements and, by case history examples, their roles discussed in assisting in the discovery of concealed mineral deposits. A look to the future includes the potential role of bacteria to provide new focus for mineral exploration. Analyses of samples from the controlled environment of Britain’s Eden Project are presented on an accompanying CD as part of a database that includes, also, the potential role of the halogens to assist in mineral exploration. Data on this CD provide a ‘hands-on’ approach for the reader to interrogate and personally assess real datasets from the burgeoning discipline of biogeochemical exploration.

Key Features

* Describes the practical aspects of plant selection and collection in different environments around the world, and how to process and analyze them
* Discusses more than 60 elements in plants, with data interpretation and case history results that include exploration for Au, PGEs, U, base metals and kimberlites
* Contains databases as digital files on an accompanying CD for "hands-on" experimentation with real biogeochemical data


Researchers and graduate students in geochemistry, Earth surface processes and geology

Table of Contents

  • Preface.
    1. Introduction.
    1.1 Setting the Scene
    1.2 Biogeochemistry and Geobotany
    1.3 Plant Evolution and Chemistry
    1.4 Barrier Mechanisms
    2. Plant Function, Chemistry and Mineralogy
    2.1 Plant Requirements
    2.2 Element uptake and function
    2.3 Root form, and controls on element uptake
    2.4 Summary Comments on Chemical Requirements of Plants
    2.5 The Mineralogy of Plants
    3. Field Guide 1: Climatic and Geographic Zones.
    3.1 Selection of Plant Species
    3.2 Summary Notes
    4. Field Guide 2: Sample Selection and Collection
    4.1 General Considerations
    4.2 Selection of Tissue Type
    4.3 Sample Collection
    4.4 Alternative Samples
    4.5 Geozoology
    5. Survey Design and Comparisons with Other Sample Media
    5.1 Introduction
    5.2 Survey Design
    5.3 Scale of Survey
    5.4 Comparisons with Other Types of Geochemical Survey
    5.5 Summary
    6. Sample Preparation and Decomposition
    6.1 Introduction
    6.2 Washing
    6.3 Particle and Sample Size
    6.4 Sample Decomposition
    6.5 Dry Ashing
    6.6 A Special Case: Vegetation from Sites near Smelters or Other Sites of Point Source Metal Emissions
    6.7 Wet Decomposition
    6.8 Microwave Digestion
    6.9 Selective Leaching
    6.10 Fusions
    6.11 Standard Reference Materials and Analytical Controls
    6.12 Summary
    7. Plant Analysis
    7.1 ‘Fit for Purpose’
    7.2 Analytical Techniques
    7.3 Analytical Instrumentation
    7.4 Summary
    8. The Eden Project – Source of a Biogeochemical Database
    8.1 Introduction
    8.2 Samples in the Collection
    8.3 Soil in the Biomes
    8.4 Foliage Collection from the Biomes
    9. Biogeochemical Behaviour Of The Elements
    9.1 Introduction
    9.2 The Importance of Data Quality
    9.3 Elements in Plants and Their Relevance to Mineral Exploration
    10. Data Handling and Analysis
    10.1 First Estimation of the Data
    10.2 Computer Software Tools
    10.3 Data Analysis
    10.4 Map Plots of Data Distributions
    10.5 Unusual Concentrations of Selected Elements
    11. Case Histories
    11.1 Gold
    11.2 Platinum Group Metals/Nickel/Copper
    11.3 Nickel
    11.4 Uranium
    11.5 Kimberlites
    12. Exploration Geomicrobiology – The New Frontier
    12.1 Introduction
    12.2 Significance of micro-organisms as biogeochemical agents
    12.3 Methods for identifying micro-organisms and microbial processes
    12.4 Molecular procedures
    12.5 Case studies
    12.6 Future technologies for bio-prospecting
    12.7 Conclusions
    13. A Look to the Future
    13.1 Introduction
    13.2 Hyperspectral Imagery in Relation to Biogeochemistry
    13.3 Exploration Geomicrobiology
    13.4 Forensic Biogeochemistry
    13.5 Plant Mineralogy
    13.6 Chemical analysis
    13.7 Concluding Remarks

Product details

  • No. of pages: 480
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier Science 2007
  • Published: July 11, 2007
  • Imprint: Elsevier Science
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080546490

About the Author

Colin Dunn

Affiliations and Expertise

Consulting Geochemist, Sidney, British Columbia, Canada

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