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 results published this week in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, researchers from the Exploring for the Future program at Geoscience Australia, the University of Adelaide and the United States Geological Survey have for the first time compared magnetotelluric data from all Australia, North and South America and China.
“Like a live wire detector, magnetotelluric instruments identify natural electrical conductors in the Earth tens to hundreds of kilometers below the Earth’s surface that are sometimes related to copper, gold, and associated critical mineral deposits. “, said the principal scientific adviser of the program Exploring for the Future. , explained Dr. Karol Czarnota.
“Through this analysis, we discovered that we could 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. This is the first time we have identified statistically robust global information of this type, which images the 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,” Dr Czarnota said.
The research drew on data from the Australian Lithospheric Magnetotelluric Architecture 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,” said Dr Czarnota.
“Magnetotellurics is one of the few techniques able to ‘see’ through this cover. This technology is a powerful tool for mining exploration – by using it, we essentially learn to read nature. »
The full search is available via Nature Science Reports.