Vegetation as a biotic driver for the formation of soil geochemical anomalies for mineral exploration of covered terranes

Yamin Ma

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    272 Downloads (Pure)


    [Tuncated abstract] Soil is a relatively low cost and robust geochemical sampling medium and is an essential part of most mineral exploration programs. In areas of covered terrain, however, soils are less reliable as a sampling medium because they do not always develop the geochemical signature of the buried mineralisation; possibly a result of limited upward transport of ore related elements into the surficial overburden. As economic demands on the resources industry grow, mineral exploration continues to expand further into areas of covered terrain where the rewards of finding a new deposit relative to the risks of finding it may be comparatively low. Thus, improving the costeffectiveness of a geochemical exploration program requires a sound understanding of the mechanisms by which soil geochemical anomalies form in transported overburden. This thesis examines the deep biotic uplift of ore related elements by deep rooting vegetation as a mechanism for the development of soil geochemical anomalies within transported overburdens, in semi-arid and arid regions. '...' Vegetation and soils were analysed at two Au prospects in Western Australia: Berkley, Coolgardie and Torquata, 210 km south-east of Kambalda, in semi-arid Western Australia to complement both the mass balance and the differential modelling. At Berkley, both the vegetation and soils located directly over the mineralisation showed high concentrations of Au. There may be indirect evidence for the operation of the deep plant uptake flux taking effect from the field evidence at Berkley. Firstly, anomalous concentrations of Au were found in the surface soils, with no detectable Au in the transported overburden. Secondly, the trace element concentrations in vegetation showed correlation to the buried lithology, which to our knowledge has not been reported elsewhere. The results from the samples at Torquata, in contrast, were less conclusive because the Au is almost exclusively associated with a surficial calcrete horizon (at
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2008

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