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GSA Specialist Group in Economic Geology Facets of Exploration Feb Webinar

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A monthly series of talks from industry professionals covering many aspects of exploration.

About this Event

The GSA Specialist Group in Economic Geology invites you to attend the Facets of Exploration Webinar on 12.00 pm WST, Wednesday 3 February 2021.

Our speaker is Ravi Anand, who will be presenting the talk 'Exploration through in situ and transported cover in regolith-dominated terrains: my journey at CSIRO'.

Time:

WST: 12.00pm – 1.00pm (WA)

AEST: 2.00pm - 3.00pm (QLD)

ACST :1.30pm - 2.30pm(NT)

ACDT: 2.30pm – 3.30pm (SA)

AEDT: 3.00pm - 4.00pm (ACT, NSW, TAS, VIC)

Abstract:

I will summarise over three decades of research into regolith geology and exploration geochemistry and its impact on mineral exploration. This research was carried out by numerous regolith researchers and industry. Prior to the discovery of nickel in 1966, exploration geochemistry had been little used in Australia. Research during the 1970s and 1980s highlighted the need for a better understanding of the nature and evolution of the regolith and the landscape in which it occurs, and their combined influence on the surface expression of concealed mineralisation. The revival of gold exploration and mining in the 1980s prompted long-term research collaboration with industry through a series of AMIRA/CSIRO projects commencing in 1987. Initially focussed on the Yilgarn, these projects extended in scope across Australia under the auspice of the CRCLEME from 1995 to 2008. These research programmes resulted in two major step-changes in understanding of regolith geoscience and its application in mineral exploration. The first of these changes occurred in the 1980s and 1990s whereas the second step change occurred in the 2000s. Mineral explorers went from seeing the regolith as their greatest hindrance, to seeing it as a potential tool in the quest for the discovery of new deposits. Three of the most important developments were (1) sampling media (e.g., lateritic residuum, calcrete, regolith interfaces), (2) dispersion of gold and other trace elements under changing weathering conditions and (3), landform controls on exploration methods. The approaches, concepts and methods developed are now an integral part of an Australian explorers’ “tool kit” and are also used by industry in similarly deeply weathered terrains elsewhere. They have contributed to numerous ore deposit discoveries worth many billions of dollars in the Yilgarn, elsewhere in Australia and overseas.

By the early 2000s, the focus of exploration was moving to areas dominated by transported cover. Explorers need to ‘see through’ sedimentary cover to find ore bodies buried beneath. The second major step change, in the 2000s, involved identifying whether and how metals migrate through transported cover to form geochemical signatures of buried ore bodies. New knowledge was generated about metal transportation processes that may form geochemical anomalies at the Earth’s surface, and developed predictive models for how and where to use biotic (vegetation, termites mounds, fungi), gaseous and/or other sample media such as Ultrafine soil fraction. An integrated approach, combining different mechanisms with the nature and evolution of transported regolith and climatic settings, was considered to obtain the best prediction of metal transfer.

In Australia, exploration is progressively moving to areas of very deep (>200 m) regolith and basin cover environments. Surface geochemical sampling approaches may not be applicable in these areas. The cost of deep drilling renders high-density sampling of the weathered basement beneath the unconformity economically ineffective. However, older cover, especially, may provide an opportunity for exploration. The research is focussed on unravelling the complex challenges of exploring in areas of deep transported cover through understanding the effects of landscape history, geochronology of weathering and past and present climates on metal transport. Sampling media such as interface, indicator minerals and palaeoredox fronts are promising sampling media for deep cover environments.

Bio:

Ravi joined CSIRO in 1987 as a Research Scientist in the Division of Mineralogy, carrying out research into methods of exploring for concealed mineral deposits in Australia’s deeply weathered terrains. He became an Adjunct Professor in regolith geology in 2001 at Curtin University of Technology and Chief Research Scientist in CSIRO in 2006. He retired from CSIRO in 2020 but continue to be involved with the CSIRO as an Honorary Fellow. In 32 years with CSIRO, he has built an international reputation as a leader in the field of weathering, regolith geology and geochemistry as applied to mineral exploration. His research career has focused on developing new and improved methods for mineral exploration in areas of deep weathering and sedimentary cover. Ravi was Applications Coordinator of the CRC for Landscape Evolution and Mineral exploration (1995-2001) and Program leader of Program 2 in the CRC for Landscape Environments and Mineral Exploration (2001-2008). He has led many successful multi-clients Australian Mineral Industries Research Association Limited (AMIRA) projects, and large one to one projects with industry and Geological Surveys, focusing on gold, base metals and nickel exploration in the regolith-dominated terrains of Australia. Research on regolith geology and exploration geochemistry has contributed to the discoveries of a series of gold deposits in Australia. He has provided training in regolith geology to numerous mining companies in Australia and overseas. He has received many national and international awards for regolith research, including a Gold Medal from the Association of Applied Geochemists and Gibb Maitland Medal from the Geological Society of Australia. Following registration, you will receive a Zoom link to watch the webinar.

We look forward to seeing you on February 3!

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