Multi-faceted mineral exploration: something for everyone

Date & time

1–2pm 27 September 2018


Jaeger 1 Seminar Room


Caroline Tiddy - University of South Australia

Event series


 Kial Stewart

Mineral exploration is known as a boom and bust industry. In boom times, explorers make money, drill, get excited and some even direct funds towards research to break into new frontiers such as exploration technologies for application in buried, prospective terranes. In bust times, explorers tighten their belts in every way possible and ride out the market storm. As a researcher in various aspects of mineral exploration, I feel the same. In boom times we can get research funding, and we definitely get excited about the findings we make! In bust times, we scramble to keep our research going and be a shoulder for sad, highly qualified taxi drivers to cry on. The ups and downs of minerals-related research enthusiasm means that as researchers, we ourselves need to be dynamic and open to exploring new avenues of research. As someone who started out as a metamorphic and structural geologist, I am surprised to say that my main field of research is now in regolith science. But, all this work has the common thread of progressing mineral exploration technologies.

This presentation will be an overview of the diverse research in mineral exploration that has been undertaken over the last 15 years as a collaboration between various university, government and industry organisations. We will start with a new proposal of a Palaeo- to Mesoproterozoic metamorphic core complex architecture for the basement rocks in the Mount Woods Domain in the northern Gawler Craton, which has been a hot area of exploration for iron oxide-copper-gold deposits amongst other commodities. Less than 5% of basement rocks are exposed in this terrane, therefore the interpretation has been derived from new detailed geophysical imagery. Such a new and significantly different model for this terrane impacts on its mineral systems prospectivity assessment.

From a regional scale and basement rock focus, we will move into research that demonstrates how signatures of buried mineralisation may be expressed in the cover rocks that overlie prospective basement rocks. Such signatures are the result of element transport via mechanical and/or chemical processes and are preserved within various media including resistate mineral phases (e.g. monazite), sandstone and shale sequences overlying known mineral occurrences, pedogenic-carbonates (which need to be distinguished from marine-carbonates!), and within biogeochemical samples. The outcome of this research has been in the development of a workflow for lithogeochemical characterisation of cover sequence materials. This workflow has potential for automation and incorporation into new drilling and analytical technologies that have been developed within the Deep Exploration Technologies CRC, and that will return real-time geochemical and mineralogical data whilst drilling. And then there is MinEx CRC…

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