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Contents

14. THE APPLICATION OF SOIL SAMPLING TO GEOCHEMICAL
EXPLORATION IN NONGLACIATED REGIONS OF THE WORLD

P.M.D. Bradshaw and I. Thomson
Barringer Research Limited
Rexdale, Ontario

Bradshaw, P.M.D. and Thomson, I., The application of soil sampling to geochemical exploration
in nonglaciated regions of the world; in Geophysics and Geochemistry in the Search for Metallic
Ores; Peter J. Hood, editor; Geologrcal Survey of Canada, Economic Geology Report 31,
p. 327-338, 1979.
Abstract
Early work in the application of geochemistry to mineral exploration revealed evidence of
a simple and direct relationship between geochemical patterns in residual soils and those in the
underlying bedrock. Many geochemical features are common to soils developed under a wide
range of physical and climatic conditions and thus permit the widespread use of geochemistry in
exploration. A simple model, based on the ideal pattern, can be applied extensively in the
unglaciated regions of the world, provided attention is given to the well understood and
documented distortions caused by mechanical movement and hydromorphic dispersion.
Significant differences are, however, noted in various places and the prime objective of the
exploration geochemist is to correctly recognize these situations and to select techniques of
sampling, analysis and interpretation to accommodate them. Under extreme circumstances
geochemistry is not effective and its use should be avoided.
In this paper a review is presented of the application of geochemistry in nonglaciated soil
environments. The basic geochemical characteristics of these soils are illustrated by the use of
idealized models and case histories from around the world. Particular attention is given to
effects which create conditions that differ markedly from the idealized situation, including
leaching, seepage anomalies, calcrete development, duricrusts and the effects of transported
overburden mch as alluvium, blown sand, landslides and volcanic ash. In establishing methods,
careful consideration must be given to variables mch as optimum grain size, soil horizon to be
sampled, analytical extraction employed, choice of elements to be analyzed and the
interpretation of the various parameters meamred and observed.

Resume
Les premiers travaux mr l'application de la geochimie a la recherche de mmeraux
demontrent qu'il existe une relation directe entre les compositions geochimiques dans les sols
residuels et celles de la roche en place sous-jacente. Beaucoup de particularites geochimiques
sont communes aux sols qui se sont formes par mite d'une grande variation des conditions
climatiques et physiques, ce qui a permis l'utilisation considerable de la geochimie dans les
travaux d'exploration. Un modele simple, base mr la composition ideale, peut etre applique, a
a
grande echelle, dans les regions de la terre qui ont echappe aux glaciations, condition de tenir
compte des deformations causees par Ie mouvement mecanique et par la dispersion
hydromorphique, qui ont deja ete constatees et appuyees par de nombreux documents.
Toutefois, les auteurs remarquent des differences importantes dans divers emplacements et
l'objectif premier du geochimiste est de savoir reconnai1re parfaitement ces phenomenes et de
choisir des techniques d'echantillonnage, d'analyse et d'interpretation qui conviennent. Dans des
circonstances exceptionnelles, la geochimie n'est pas efficace et il faut eviter de l'utiliser.
Les auteurs presentent, dans ce rapport, un aper u de l'application de la geochimie a des
milieux qui n'ont pas mbi l'action des glaciations. Les particularites geochimiques de base de
ces sols sont definies par l'utilisation de modiHes optima et de dossiers provenant de toutes les
parties du monde. On accorde une attention toute speciale a des effets genP"rateurs de
conditions qui different passablement de la situation optimale, et qui comprennent Ie lessivage,
les anomalies d'infiltration, la croissance de croutes calcaires, les croutes concretionnees et les
effets de la mrcharge transportee comme l'alluvion, Ie sable P"olien, les glissements et la cendre
volcanique. Lors de l'elaboration des mP"thodes, il faut tenir compte tout particulierement de
a
donnees comme Ie grain de dimension optimale, l'horizon echantillonner, Ie type d'extraction
analytique utilisee, Ie choix des elements a analyser et l'interpretation des differents
parametres memres et observes.

INTRODUCTION these conditions may be distorted by downslope creep,
seepage, and leaching, geochemical techniques for the
At an early stage in the development of exploration
reliable interpretation of these problems exist. This
geochemistry it was established that systematic sampling and
relatively simple condition probably prevails over as much as
analysis of soil, where the soil is residual and mineralization
70 per cent of the unglaciated areas of the earth's surface
is not covered by younger rocks or transported overburden,
and undoubtedly there are still many places where
represent a straightforward and generally reliable method of
straightforward collection and analysis of soils will lead to
locating sub-outcropping mineralization. Furthermore,
the discovery of new mineralization. However, as exploration
although geochemical anomalies developed in soils under

In exploration geochemist. values Figure 14. 100ms and Webb. anomalies in residual soil environments surface projection of the main body of mineralization. In flat areas the fan is typically symmetrical. Nicholls et aI.M. fhe best grades and highest anomalously high values in overlying residual soils. the 13st ten years has provided sufficicnt evidence for the confident application of techniques under a wide range of I\s indicated by the . but ran with the problem of exploring where the soils are of also gi ve an indication of the orientCltion of the source. It is imporUlIlt to notc in the interpretation of gcochemical data that. Cox (1975). a considerable depth of the early 1960's (Hawkes and Webb. whereas to one side of the nnomaly th[. Philpot (1 'n5). however.. provided the soil is residual. Mazzuchelli and Robbins (1973).Worthington et al. (J971). and landslides) and/or the minercllization is blind under 3 distribution of copper and gold in a deep tropicnl soil profile YOlmger rock cover. the location and up to 200 m between the soil gcochemical anomaly and the identification of thesr. Bradshaw and I. 1961.Tooms and Webb (1961). This not only provides murh more residual soil over mineralization. from the soil profile data.D. outcropping minerCllization. the Southwest Pacific . The basic concepts formulated in Coast. belween 100 and 1')0 m downdip resulting in an apparent separation of As stated in the introduction.geochemical anomalies in decrense with depth. Southwest Africa. Cornwall (1970). iIs origin and geological relationship is further residual soil and also examines the role of geochemistry in illustrated by Koksoy and Bradshaw (1969).Mazzuchelli (l972). 197'). or increClses with depth. applic8tion of geochemistry ill residual soil environments to In all the examples quotcd above. Chakrabarti and Solomon (1970). in strictly residual soil mld over-limited geographic areas.1. Lewis et a!. (1974) and is well and blind mineralization. can be redlJced to a nilrrow anomaly at depth the first and by no mrcans always simple task of the closely related to the loration of the mineralization. (1976).1. Similar processes by the work of Scott (1975) at Otjahase. local workers have found indications that. while on slopes the fan spreads downslope (by mechanical means) as depicted in Figure 14. Thomson and Brim (1976) and North America .. 19(2) have been largely weath[. Australia . represents the most straightforward and direct geochemical method 01 locating mineralization. This refers to those under transported overburden of remote origin example illustrates the mcmner in which a very broad anomaly while blind deposits are those covered by younger rock. Asia . maximum sulphide formation. The usefulness and importance of soil profile sampling to detect the exact location of the source of the <momaly is frequently overlooked in t he application of exploration geochemistry. trace elements present in the bedrock become concentrntion. of minerali7iltion. except where a soil RESIDUAL SOILS anomaly is modified by some of the processes indicated in later sections of this paper. highest grade. The near- surfilce part of Lhis fan is generally considerably wider than the soil anomaly near the rock contact. bove example from the Ivory well defined environments.Irong soil illlOmaly was located over the sub-outcrop content of an orebody gi ves rise to the presence of of copper-zinc mineralization. The success of this approach is evidenced by an extensive lit[~. Idealized diagram . For transported origin (e. Granier (1973). The typical distribution of trace elements in soils overlying base metal sulphide mineralization is shown in Figure 14. the strenr]th of a soil geochemical anomaly may be directly related to the grade of mineralization in underlying fresh rock (Ong and Sevillano. a measure of the dip of the vein can be obtained adapted to meet the challenge of these areas. Tile normal incorporation of metals in the soils results in the "fan-shaped" distribution depicted. 1975. Yellur (1963). volcanic example.2 from Granier (1973) shows the ash. Fiqure 14. content of sulphide mineralization are. Indeed. South America . Thomson continues in any area.g.ring does not necessarily destruy the surface soil proven correct. Ellis and McGregor (1967).Dasgupta (1963). Govett and Hale (1967). Montgomery the more complex environments of trClnsported overburden (1971). The extent to which information obtained from soil profiles eiln clarify the geochemical nature This paper reviews the use of geochemistry in areas of of an anomaly. Contents 328 P. alluvium.) The at surf ace. Reedman (1974). distorted by downslope creep and local chemicnl correct identification of the presence of such conditions is redistribution.. Montgomery (1971). In a simple fan-shaped arlOmaly a soil profile taken directly over mineralization shows a geDchemical response which rr'mains about the same. Bradshaw et al. . prevail over minefCllization where the hifJh trace element where a :. Grcochemical methods must then be addition.I_ewis (1965). etc. Advances in the science have refined the response. Saigusa. windblown scmd. sooner or later the geologist is faced prrcise definition of the exact source of the anomaly. (In this paper the term buried deposit" over vein-typc minerali7ation in the Ivory Coast. the anomaly is related to the sub- Geochemical Anomalies in Residual Soils outcrop of any mineralization and not necessarily the During the normal process of wenthering and soil greatest thickness.CDope (1973). This is well illustrated incorpor<:lted into oV[lrlying residual soils. significant and readily the point at which specific procedures mClY be recommended identifiilble anomCllies were located directly over sub- for particular exploration problems. 19(5).1. Extensive use of geochemistry over explairled by Hawkes and Webb (1962).rature of case histories from around the world including Africa .

. a portion of the metals goes into solution in constant horizon (rather than depth) recognized within any the groundwater and is dispersed in the direction of one area by distinctive colour or texture. blown sand. occur spatially separated from it Au < 1 and often create interpretatIOn problems. Soil Differentiation When mineralization sub-outcrops on a slope. 50 and display a wide range of form and occurrence (Woolf (m) ).) Around oxidizing sulphide mineralization the only certain extreme conditions require a radical change in groundwaters are typically acidic (as a result of soil-sampling procedures. Within the nonglaciated parts of the world a wide other locations where. in a si tu weathering.2. It is evident that.1). or is visibly well displacement and hence the location of the source of the developed in other areas. systematic profile sampling of a seepage area may reveal an asymmetry of metal distribution patterns indicating from which direction the metal entered the seepage zone. These no preferred sample depth. Seepage anomalies are thus often the source). majority of soil types. (This is normally termed hydromorphic scheme may be modified to suit local requirements. Such a change occurs where the obtained by taking a samp:8 at considerable depth. 1973).. For example.2. Figure 14. The degree of horizons within the soil. two regolithic soils there may be no differentiation at all and thus conditions which promote solubility of most metals. with a strong control on the anomaly can usually be accurately determined by soil profile distribution of metals. etc. Section showing the lateral distribution of gold and copper in residual lateritic soil over a gold-copper An alternative approach to distinguishing residual and vein. for material. F or example. p. Seepage anomalies are frequently encountered in humid environments 0. This process results in the formation of the effects of calcrete development.) samples stream sediment resulting in anomalies in these media. developed and indistinct in some areas. resulting soil anomaly is invariably distorted or displaced may lead to modification of geochemical patterns between downslope by mechanical movement. metals come out of solution and necessary to give a detailed account of the geochemical are precipitated. The hydromorphically Similar relationships often lead to a spatial displacement of transported metals tend to be present in secondary minerals geophysical and geochemical anomalies. bogs. but can in some physical and chemical layering which may be very weakly cases have a significant effect on interpretation. although related to mineralization.. a fact that can be with weak bonding and adsorbed or absorbed on the soil confusing at first sight. in immature decomposition of the SUlphides) and relatively reducing. seepage anomalies is by the use of different analytical extractions (Hawkes and Webb. the Weathering processes. On occasions. The so-called B horizon has become the preferred sample Seepage Anomalies medium in routine soil surveys throughout the world. percentage of weakly extractable metal. However. 1968) with their topographic position Cu 0 <400 often an indication that they are hydromorphic features. 1974). 251) show seepage anomalies 1000 m downslope from known mineralization approximately 10 times stronger than the 1m) residual anomaly directly over the mineralization.. • >1500 Invariably seepage anomalies are of restricted extent and limited to the near-surface part of soil profiles having no "root" in mineralization. In this case much the presence of a thin layer of transported material overlying of the metal is precipitated from solution into the lake or residual soil (alluvium\ colluvium. These anomalies 1-8 are frequently very much more intense than the residual anomaly directly over the source. Webb and > 8 Tooms (1959. may be taken from deeper levels below the exotic Groundwater can also reach the surface in a variety of overburden. 1966. the distance of downslope effects on the geochemical patterns. Cole et aI. Fortunately. very large concentrations of characteristics of all these soils since the general principles metals may accumulate in the soil (Fig. it is not geochemical environment. where mineralization has a characterized by high absolute values and/or a high shallow dip and oxidation has taken place to some depth. To minimize potential problems sampling. although recogni tion of exploration geochemistry under changing residual soil seepage zones in the field can sometimes be extremely conditions further consideration is given to leached soils and difficult. ~ 400-1500 Soil profile sampling is of great assistance in the recognition and discrimination of seepage anomalies. Electromagnetic anomalies. there can be a considerable relative separation of the geochemical and geophysical anomalies. systematic sampling should be restricted to a single horizon. In other areas surface leaching metals stay in solution until a change in geochemical may be such that a reliable geochemical signature can only be environment is encountered. have the strongest response over the greatest extraction (such as EDT A) and contrasts with residual conductivity-thickness of a sulphide body (although the anomalies in which metals are typically firmly bonded strength of the EM anomaly is also modified by the depth of (Bradshaw et aI. with no significant as shown in Figure 14. ppm et al. . normally movement. 14. . in groundwaters come out in streams or lakes. both mechanical and chemical. . 1962).. marshes. Although the groundwater flow. etc. Contents Geochemical Soil Sampling 329 ppm hydromorphically transported anomalies which. Ivory Coast (after Granier. 1962. This metal is easily removed by a weak analytical example. The principal of anomaly formation presented in this paper hold true in the location of such seepages are at breaks of slope and in low. Soils typically display both a displacement may not always be appreciable. To illustrate the application of lying areas. in response to the change in range of soil types are encountered. also quoted in Hawkes and Webb. Generally speaking this is a sample collected at a depth of In addition to the incorporation of metals into soil by in 10-30 cm below any zone of organic accumulation. Furthermore. Also.

He found Lhat systematic sampling and shown by the work of Learned . Contents 330 P.3 shows the results of sampling residual soils o 200 400 600 0 400 800 1200 1600 containing calcrete developed over cupper-Iead-zinc mineralization at Areachap in the desert environment of the ppm Zn ppm Cu Northern Cnpe Province of South Africa (Danchin...5 . As a result.ccondary clement values and leads to a reduced anomaly corll. arsenic. tungsten and platinum O~ which are less mobile or immobile under the conditions encountered and thus unlikely to be completely removed from the soil. Calcrete or calicllP is a commonly encountered soil development in arid areas. When severe leaching is expected. In southeastern areas of thin calcrete or where the carbonate represents only United States. f lowever. In one instance. particularly in Western Australia. anomalies rclated to geochemistry usually faithfully reflects metal concenLrations mirleralization and rock types arc preserved in the near- surface soil. Anom31ies are.3. found. ~. development is vcry thick or dominates in the soil. surflcal 5011 molybdenum. both copper prospects in Puerto Rico. which Cclrl form in almost any type of pre-existing soil by deposi tioo from the soil water (Netterberg. boulders or massive layer. Physically it can t3ke many forms including powdery disseminations. . Distribution at' copper and zinc in soil containing occasional quartL and jasper pellets. (1976) reported that soil a minor portion of the total soil. methods have been profiles over nickel-copper mineralization in ultrabasic rocks developed for exploratiorl in these arens. selenium. 1973. copper was here and in South Africa. 1975. with understanding. typically with reduced contrast (Scott. nickel-copppr mineralization at Pioneer nr. Furthermore. weaker in the soil than in bedrock. An example of the effects of severe surhce leaching is Western Australia.5 m thick. has shown that despite Profiles from both areas show similar results with strong leclChing some contrast frequently pf?fsists between the concentrations of the ore elements decreasing ste3dily metal content of residual soils developed over mineralization upwards from bedrock to the surface through the calcrete. routine qeochemical practice is to analy7e for asscwiated or pathfinder elements such as gold. South Africa (with permission ot' the Anglo- mixed zone above the bedrock containing relict bedrock American Corp. Thus in residual soils. However.1. pellets.M..md Butt and Sheppy (1975) from studies of nickel deposits in dilutant to the original trace element content of the pre- the Agnew area in V/esLern Australi a. it appears that certain generali L8tions can be made. tin. the relative proportions of calcite and host soil may vary considerably over short distances. and unmincralized rock. Calcrete i /.ill anomalous over element values may be very different from unleached soils. lead. Worthington et al.. as in the examples leaching has removed nickel from the near-surfacc soil and guoted. or be completely examined residual soil profiles containin<j calcrete over removed from the area. the surface of the calcrete is st. • at Jacnrnyns Pan approximately 120 km from Areachap. the mineralization and systematic grid sampling of the discrete anomalies related to mineralization may still be uppermost layer of calcrete in these are<lS delineated the discerned.oils over sevcral porphyry the underlying mineralization and lithology. discussed in more detail in a later section. removal from the soils. virtually unreported in Lhc literature. formed <l significant soil anomaly. nodules. The metals may be redepositcd lower down. Thomson Leached Soils fragments in various stages of decomposition with oxidized Under certain climatic and topographic conditions. This sequence was trace clcments become leached from surface soils. however. remote ori'lin which masks any geochemic3l response from This is certninly true for the more mobile elements such as the mineralization.rast. . (1977) carbonate materiLll is a secondary precipitate and acts as a . usually calcitp..~ 38oo_~~ PIlm 6300 ppm Figure 14. copper sulphides and copper stainin'l. The nature of the calcrete varics from a dense mClssi ve variety Figure 14. althOlJCjh absolute trace However. 1976). There is alw a well developed calcretized Areachap. underlying mineralization.) Cox (1975) forming a zone of secondary enrichment. it was found thClt gold. On occasion leaching can be so complicated at Areachap where the top 1 ~ em of soil above intense that the trace element content of residual soils i:.ar Norseman.---. through profile through calcrete over copper-zinc mineralization at powdery tq lumpy. In enrichment at depths of from 20 to 50 m..--- ~. Butt. In this case the calcret.'xisting soil.md Boisen (1973) who studied analysis of the upper surface of the calcrete reflected both the geochemic<ll response in . The situ<ltion is further Lord. of a cementing and/or replacing carbonate. Extensive work. geochemical anomalies may be so depressed that they cannot It is evident that all degrees of surface leaching can be discerned using conventional techniques. 1972). the prespnce of calcrete depresses absolute trace dcposi ted at least a portion in a zone of .~ horizon is 0. (The complications of wirldblown sand are copper and /inc. occur from insignificant to complete. . but has generQlly been ignored or avoided as media for qeochemical sampling and its use is \----. 1971).D. The Further examples are provided by Nickel et 31. However.e cases. condition has been the subject of intensive study over the last Sampling was also carried out through similar calcrete ten years and. In thr. the calcrete is largely composed of windblown material 01 depleted to the point that no recognizable <lnomaly exists. This carefully sampled and analyzed for total copper and zinc. it is probclble that where calcrete in the bedrock despite the soils being leached. However. Calcrete is composed /.). associatcd with the copper minerali/ation. Bradshaw and I. Worldwidc experience in the sampling and the analysis undoubtedly because its low chemical mob iIi ty prevented its of calcrete in geochemical explnrCltion is limited. the contrast between anomalies so leached from residual soils developed on porphyry-copper over minerali7ation and background is much lower in the mineralization that no recognizable copper anom<lly could be surface calcretc samples than in samples of bedrock.

1975. Prolonged erosion and scarp retreat result in Further assistance in interpretation can frequently be the formation of transported detrital duricrusts covering gained by analyzing for elements uniquely associated with pediment and plateau surfaces. sulphide mineralization are known in the eastern gabbro at locations shown in Figure 14. An example of soil anomalies related to both rock type In soils of transported origin (alluvium. the high those developed over unmineralized iron-rich rock types. and higher in duricrust than in underlying weathered bedrock and sulphide mineralization. a change in the copper-nickel ratios (Fig. In direct contrast the indurated types. the problems for geochemical exploration described earlier. copper and chromium in ultrabasic rocks. conditions change the duricrust will not revert to a lateritic Consequently. cobalt is between the duricrust and adjacent residual soils is poor or frequently concentrated in the sulphides in contrast to nonexistent. usually with some present case. In of the upland surfaces and is progressively thinner away from the Niquelandia area. but also demonstrate that there is no significant portion of a lateritic profile may become leached and create variation with depth. the area of interest requiring that the projection of mineralized veins could be traced in follow-up has been significantly reduced by the use of metal the duricrust horizon of lateritic soils as molybdenum maxima ratios. also shown in The terms duricrust. low in chromium. colluvium. a nickel- other unindurated soils is often difficult and may be copper anomaly high in cobalt. Wilmshurst. 1975). Two small bodies of nickel-copper mineralization. For ultrabasic rocks has not been followed up and its cause is not example. copper-nickel ratios have been unindurated soil is eroded. no significant sulphide Duricrust occurrences have been found in the ultrabasic rocks. Duricrust forms held. For example. In well demonstrated by Figure 14. For most routine surveys it is thus recommended graded and a similar nickel-copper anomaly. chromium which occurs either with silicate minerals or as a Direct comparison of duricrust and residual latosols and separate oxide phase (chromite). in the case Africa. clearly identifies the sulphide mineralization with a further Duricrust commonly inherits the general geochemical minor anomaly to the west over the ultrabasic rocks. arsenic and zinc useful pathfinders related to sulphide LITHOLOGICAL ANOMALIES OR FALSE ANOMALIES mineralization and unrelated to barren ultrabasic rocks. The loss of water causes the collapse of the basis of individual metal distribution patterns alone. 1976) in which soil sampling was carried out over composition of the parent material and modified by the part of the Niquelandia ultrabasic complex and a small presence of the carbonate material. For example. This can lead to the formation of found useful in exploring areas of ultrabasic rocks over much fossil duricrusts perched. For example. The profiles not only illustrate the contrast between mineralization and background is much di fference in metal concentrations between contrasting rock lower in the duricrust. Wilmshurst (1975) separately from other soils data. Metal ratios as a means of distinguishing between Duricrust resists weathering processes and tends to anomalies related to mineralization and lithology have been persist on hills and plateau surfaces as less competen t used elsewhere. 1975). the anomalies related to mineralization may be differentiated duricrust commonly is thickest close to scarps at the margin from those related to rock type by the use of metal mtios. notably in parts of Western ei ther potentially economic mineralization or the Australia (Butt and Sheppy. (1965) working in Sierra Leone found yet known. the same granites. the sulphides are high in copper with the edge. However. in the lattice of the silicate minerals preferentially on well-drained hills or at the margin of larger from the nickel-copper sulphide mineralization. frequently gives rise to anomalies in residual soils associations apply throughout the whole belt and can be used which can have the same magnitude as anomalies related to with some reliability (Moeskops. this is not always the case. ferricrete and canga are used to Figure 14. unmineralized altered gabbro. 14. both of which are intruded into normally show any geochemical patterns related to underlying Precambrian schists. they are by no means response related to the underlying mineralization may be restricted to these rock types. The formation of duricrust is apparently an respect to nickel contrasting wi th the ultrabasic rocks in irreversible process and should drainage or climatic which the nickel is high with respect to copper. hills and plateau surfaces. Sheppy. In this case.) The fact that the soils in this area are residual is of similar magnitude to those in weathered bedrock. cap. content of nickel. In the latter situation. Consequently. while potentially economic sulphide or oxide mineralization. The results for total nickel Clnd copper in soils. Under such conditions geochemical continuity of nickel-copper mineralization in ultrabasic rocks. reveal a very strong and are ally large response describe a hard indurated crust. etc. most probably. can be up- impossible.4. working in Western Australia found platinum. obtained. rather than mineralization. On the soil. molybdenum levels are taken over barren schist. and central unmineralized metal-rich lithology.5 which shows profile samples nearby background areas. low in cobalt and that data obtained from duricrust soils be interpreted high in chromium could be downgraded.4) or other new soil profile. however. Usually it is only in encountered sources of false anomalies related to distinctive the lowest calcrete horizon that a reliable geochemical Ii thologies. palladium. of differentiating leached cappings over nickel sulphides from However. Such soils will not altcn"d gabbro body. Tooms et at. hardened sesquioxides and characterized by high concentrations of copper and nickel iron-rich concretionary material. central Brazil. 1975). (In the characteristics of its parent material.) and sulphides is provided by work from Brazil (modified from trace element distribution patterns will be determined by the Thomson. 1977). Contents Geochemical Soil Sampling 331 The problem can be further aggravated by the presence Although basic intrusives and shale are the most frequently of several layers of calcrete in the soil. Clema and Stevens-Hoare (1973) also working in Western The trace metal content of unmineralized rocks is Australia. demonstrated multi-element relationships capable usually uniformly low with respect to mineralization.4. layer of pellets or over the ultrabasic rocks and much smaller and generally nodules formed by dehydration of the upper part of a lateritic weaker anomalies related to sulphide occurrences. the copper-nickel ratio anomaly in the modification in the absolute levels of trace elements. . capping or surrounding younger soils of southern Africa and in parts of Western Australia as found over large areas of Western Australia (Butt and (Cox. Nevertheless. it is not phyllosilicate (clay) lattice and results in a restructuring of possible to distinguish the barren ultrabasic rocks the soil consti tuents into compact. Experience has shown that once metal associations have been zinc and mol ybdenum in black shale and uranium in many established in one part of a mineral belt.

Bradshaw and I. Geology c.4.r.M. Goias. Brazil. Copper/nickel ratio in near-surface soil samples samples (after Thomson. Distribution of nickel in near-surface soil d.leu nm.ted 0-150 • ". PrO'tiaionoll Cont«t • >600 A c Ni ppm o 0-200 EB 201-400 EB 0-0·60 Et 401-800 (} 0'61-0·75 ~ 801-1600 • >0·75 • :>1600 B o a.D. The Niquelandia area. Distribution of copper in near-surface soil samples b. Contents 532 P. Thomson GEOLOGY Cu ppm o a un::. .bbro&Norite .IizatkJn Et e 151-300 301-600 • UtraeaStctJ M o. 1976) Figure 14.::::.

. Smith (1977) reports overburden.. There are very few published accounts of "negative" case histories in which soil geochemistry failed because of the presence of transported overburden or post mineralization cover although many certainly exist in company files.6. It is of primary importance.Cu \ \ soil geochemistry. penetrating the exotic cover. in a new belt. 1974 and 0·5 // Lovering and McCarthy.) The condition is illustrated in Figure 14. / I \ The presence of an exotic cover need --HI \ \ not necessarily eliminate the application of \ -----. will bring metals up into their foliage which then accumulates in the topsoil when the plant dies experience with one mineral belt can assist in determining giving rise to geochemical anomalies in surface soils over the which associated metals are likely to be of greater assistance mineralization. The use of appropriate selective analytical extraction techniques permitted good discrimination between a sulphide and silicate origin for the raised concentrations of these metals in soil. however. local Over Mineralization Over Altered Gabbro Over Quartzite dispersion processes may permit the upward 500 1000 ••m 1500 2000 . TRANSPORTED SOILS AND BLIND MINERALIZA nON Geochemical Anomalies in Transported Overburden Any material of remote origin. Alluvium and Colluvium More recently.. Studies of this type will no doubt lead to better methods of discriminating anomalies in other geological and climatic environments. at least in limited applications. workers in Australia have found that the mode of occurrence of nickel and copper in lateritic soils Alluvium and colluvium are the most readily recognized derived from sulphide mineralization is different from similar and most frequently encountered forms of transported soils developed over barren rock types. and those reported by Brown (1970). reports that he found no geochemical response in surface soils over the Sacaton porphyry copper deposit in Arizona where the mineralization is covered by up to 20 m of transported sand and gravel. Ullmer (1978). these associations must always be confirmed before they are relied upon too heavily. have provided surface geochemical anomalies through significant thicknesses of bedrock and transported overburden. (The word conventional is stressed since techniques are under investigation which. It is also quartzite. Contents Geochemical Soil Sampling 333 The masking affects of an exotic . however. Brazil (after Thomson. 1976). an idealized model of geochemical dispersion processes from mineralization covered by transported overburden. . Goias. Vertical distribution of copper and nickel in profiles through soils directly over mineralization such as residual soils over copper-nickel mlphide mineralization.6. Idealized diagram . The cover may be \ I discontinuous permi tting the posi ti ve I I I application of soil sampling in the intervening I I areas of residual soil. possible that plants.. be it a cover of postmineralization rocks or transported detrital overburden.5. covering thus require modifications in the .geochemical anomalies in transported overburden over mineralization. Figure 14. Niquelandia area. Circulating I I I groundwaters may reach the surface in 3·0 I I seepage zones producing hydromorphically I I transported anomalies related to concealed I mineralization. 1000 1500 2000 migration of metal with soil water into the overburden to give anomalies in transported Figure 15. Alternatively. sampling may have no role at all. application of exploration geochemistry "'" techniques (Horsnail and Lovestrom. altered gabbro. will usually mask all conventional geochemical expression of the mineralization in overlying soils. 1978) and soil 1·0 \"'. Both materials effectively mask any response that the association formed by nickel and copper with iron from the bedrock and it is essential that the distribution of oxides in the lower part of lateritic soil profiles developed over sulphide mineralization is distinct from that found over barren rocks. that the I I presence of any cover be recognized I / otherwise totally erroneous interpretations I I will be made of soil geochemical data..

It must be stressed that. residual. 1973). Playa lakes are found entirely of aeolian detritus. Thomson any such deposits be determined before interpreting soil characterized by Solonchak soils or the development of geochemical data. Scott. The area is desert with little evidence of a true ]Jl A soil development and most surficial material is sandy-stony regolithic debris with local dune sand accumulations.]~ E of aeolian material which is predominant in III the size range.M. Bedrock sampling may be used in areas gravel deposits such as those found in the southwestern where this dilution is extreme or the overburden is composed United States or merge into lake beds. However.7 reveal consistent distribution +80 patterns which are typical of all elements in the area. boron and nickel in surface debris as a function of size fraction.5 m or more of alluvial While this material may reflect the geochemistry of the sand and gravel was encountered all response from the catchmnet area it is unlikely to be able to directly delineate underlying mineralization was effectively masked. (Bugrov. to a complete cover masking all Windblown Sand and Loess bedrock response. steep mountain slopes in Fiji completely mask part of an area of porphyry copper mineralization except where there are Aeolian or windblown material tends to be chemically windows on ridges and beside streams that have cut through uniform and is usually geochemically featureless. There is a conspicuous lack of III variation in the finest size fraction which the II Ji J1 Q. Contents 334 P. Alluvial areas may coalesce to produce extensi ve valley 1975. Regardless of the degree to which secondary Arizona found that soil sampling and analysis for total copper precipitates may cement or replace these soils it is important and zinc faithfully reflected the distribution of metals about to realize that trace element patterns are primarily the Veikol Hill porphyry copper deposit where the soils are determined by the initial chemistry of the alluvial sediments. subsequent regional ::J 20 C sampling using the -10 +30 mesh fraction was found to reliably define the geology of the ring complex and remove the effects of dilution by windblown material. Bugrov (1974) and Bugrov and Shalaby (1975) report similar experience . as soon as 0. diluting local geochemical patterns.r me. portion of windblown material. is present in some soils at Pioneer.25 mm fraction (-20+70 mesh). In progressively coarser III fractions there is an increase in the 0 -80 variabili ty of the analytical data. Thus.1.I 2r in the deserts of eastern Egypt using the -1 mm + 0. soils in many semi-desert and open plain areas sulphides. The data shown in -30 Figure 14. 1975). Normally ]~ 11:~~. Chaffee and Hessin (1971) working in calcrete.! the proportion of material derived from the E local geology.7. ]~ The character of the problem is well illustrated by the work of Theobald and Allcott (1973) in Saudi Arabia. At the other extreme. Uyaijah Ring Company. under most circumstances the effects of +10 dilution by windblown sand can be removed by sieving out the fine fraction of soils. Saudi Arabia (from Theobald and Allcott. Cox. Indeed. authors attribute to the homogenizing effect . Figure 14. Bradshaw and I. However.. Soils over large areas of the world contain at least a introduced by sheet wash. Leggo (1977) observed that contain a high proportion of windblown material which can landslip deposits of stabilized mud avalanche material below cause difficulties. This is ~ +200 interpreted as reflecting a steady increase in . However. Colluvium can be very much more variable than alluvium and range from a minor component of soil. Variation of barium. Cox (1975) noted that colluvial material. This material dilutes metal values and although the geochemical problems in areas of dune sand are reduces the contrast of anomalies over copper-nickel obvious. Theobald and Allcott (1973) found that 10 anomalies related to molybdenum-tungsten mineralization could be further enhanced by analysis of nonmagnetic heavy-mineral -200 concentrates recovered from the -10 +30 o mesh size fraction. n only the finer particles of soil (less than (/ I 10 hl200 fJ m or approximately 80 mesh) can be y.7 -10 shows the results of analysis of different size +30 fractions of surface samples collected along a traverse over the Uyajah Ring structure. . aeolian material can be removed.5 . soil sampling can in arid environments throughout the world and are often continue to be of value if the effects of the BARIUM BORON NICKEL . 1974. underlying mineralization and is not a useful medium for soil sampling. Figure 14. effect of the presence of this material in residual soils is to dilute the local geochemical patterns.D. The main the cover. moved great distances by the wind. Western Australia.

the fraction and anomalies enhanced by isolating the heavy diluting effects may be removed by sieving out the fine mineral fraction. 1973). Brown (1970) found that in areas with a survey. Brown attributed the in exploration programs since it is restricted to areas of anomaly development to the seasonal upward movement of active volcanism. Bougainville Island (with permission of RioFinEx). From an examination of the form and distribution of A covering of volcanic ash is not commonly encountered anomalous copper in the aeolian cover. however. copper anomalies were developed in the silt fraction of Volcanic Ash transported soils overlying copper sulphide mineralization. Experience has shown. Contents Geochemical Soil Sampling 335 These results suggest that for soil sampling the effects In general. GEOLOGY Figure 14.9 Distribution of copper in stream sediments. cover of blown sand on the margin of the Kalahari Desert. Panguna area. Cuppm N 91-180 181-380 T 3411-720 . Bugrov (1974) draws attention to the problem of consideration given to sampling residual soil material below false anomalies produced by the secondary concentration of the aeolian cover or sampling the bedrock itself. it appears that when aeolian of aeolian dilution can be removed by sieving out the fine detritus represents a minor portion of the total soil. preferred sampling scheme is best defined by an orientation In direct contrast. Bougainville Island (after Baumer and Fraser. however. The resistate heavy minerals in depressions in the desert surface. however. that fraction.8 Geology of the Panguna area. Figure 14. material in desert soils over mineralization in eastern Egypt. It was. the principal source of metal-bearing moisture through the overburden. Where windblown material is dominant at the geochemical techniques may have to be adapted to suit local surface alternative procedures may have to be applied and conditions. 1975). Bugrov confusion during early evaluation of the Panguna porphyry (1974) also noted an association of copper with clay-sized copper deposi t on Bougainville Island (Mackenzie.

deep augering and pillin'1. reveals an extensi ve area of high copper values in the general Elrea of the Panguna deposit (Fig. p. presence of the volcanic ash blanketing nearly all ridges and spurs to depths varying from a few centimetres to 24 m. p. revealed the in the preparation of this paper. between the clayey ash and clayey weathered bedrock. geology into the blind areas. it was found that the ash is thickest on slopes and in places extends onto alluvial boulder t"rraces beside the rivers Bradshaw. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Soil sampling. The general mineralization is only a minor component of the total metal rjeology of the deposit is shown in Figure 14.s to the widespread low-grade disseminated copp"r mineralization.67-75.10. ash cov"r and alluvial terraces of sufficient grade to sustain a 1974: Geochemical sampling techniques in the eastern mine (Baumer and r-raser.. Knight (ed. and breccia. however. Explor.8 together with in the soil. Geochem. sp"cificity to mineralization in areas of high background. Detailed stream technique is dependent on correctly identifying the field sediment sampling in the upper part of the Kawerong Valley condi tions.M. The ash is of recent age and is a stratified brown clayey deposit REFERENCES which in a few places carries exotic boulders of agglomerate Baumer. ~ samples were collected hy auger at a depth of 0.D. B. Explor. The continuing study of the form and T mode of occurrence of metals derived from potentially economic mineral- ization. A. J. for permission to use da ta from the present open pit separated by areas with low kvels of exploration studi"s at Ar"achap and Jacomyns Pan. C. 3. Bougainville.10). This includes the identification of seepage of metals from depth. Aust.. 3. > 4000 2. Initially the low copper values found on ridges within C. continued study of the role of vegetation in the development of anom3lies and possible electro- N chemical dispersion processes. .5 -2 m and The Economic Geology of Australia and Papua New field personnel were unable to see any visible differ"nce Guinea. as Larsson. (Unpublished) proved the presence of ext"nsive min"ralization below th" BUljrov.W. 1. Deep Brown. Success in developing 3ny sulphides extend over a much larger area. Later. Knight of r'ZioFinEx for his assistance in obtaining the area of anomalous steam sediments were attributed to information on th" geochemistry of Bougainville. Contents 336 P. J.. most noticeably in the area of Corporation.M. and prior to drilling. Howevcr. augering was employed to sample weathered rock below the 1970: Dispersion of copper and associated trace elements ash. and so that the areil of residual soils ovcr the main deposi t. v. Bradshilw and I. cfforts mElde to extrapolate tlw in a Kalahari sand environment. The authors surface lenching (Mackenzie.. J. represented by the outline of the open pit. Panguna area. Smee. and Fraser. Subsequent are most grateful to Barring"r Research Limited for support investigations. 1975). V. Weak disseminated copper problems encountered in the field. Univ. soil 1975: Pangua porphyry copper deposit. is relatively 1974: The application of different analytical extractions restricted (Mackcnzie.. R. the US" of gases which are able to migrate more freely through overburden. P. and soil profile sampling in exploration geo- chemistry. Distribution of copper in soils. v. The further development of geo- chemical techrliques for locating mineralization beneath a cover of transported overburden or post- mineralization rocks. 14. it is probable that "ffort will be concen- trated in certain directions including: 1.L. Johannesburg. BougainviUe promise as a way of incrcasing Island (with permission of RioFinEx). thesis. 1973). gave a broken pi"ture with several The authors wish to thank the Anglo American discrete anomalies (FirJ. desert of Eqypt. Thomson. Met.). 14. 209-225.W. A. Thomson FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS A detailed discussion of new methods under investigation and future developments is outside the scope of this paper.!). 1973). p. Geochem.B. 855-866. northwest Zambia. The usc of selective analytical t"chniques to isolate metal d"rived from particular primary or secondary mineral forms shows Figure 14. Inst. Once the problem had been recognized exploration methods were modified to cope with the ash cuver. Min. identifying false anomalies due to rock types and The Panguna deposi t is located in youthful mountain enhancing anomaly contrast where the metal related to terrain covered with dense tropical rainforest. During the early phase of exploration..L. the outline of the open pit which contains the principal The challenge is to devise methods appropriate for concentration of mineralization. and copper. Systemiltic drillinc] ultimately Ph.9) which relatr.D. of London.

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