Exploration through transported cover is a fundamental challenge for the minerals industry. Linking basement orebodies with surface geochemical signatures can be critical for a cost-efficient exploration in areas under cover.
Connecting landscape features to geology at depth
One approach employed in mineral exploration is based around interpreting surface landscape features which suggest the mineral geology at depth.
Neotechtonics is the study of recent - in geological terms - motion and deformation of rock in the Earth's crust.
Understanding how faults and shear zones affect land-forms can reveal information about the geochemical footprints from the basement rock.
Mapping the Gawler Craton in South Australia
In collaboration with the Geological Survey of Sourth Australia, we undertook a project to identify landscape structures that are directly linked to deep geological structures buried under hundreds of meters of cover in the Gawler Craton in South Australia.
We developed a protocol to identify specific landforms of the regolith (weathered rock and soil cap) that are related to the basement rock structure.
This information is then able to be used to construct models of the landscape which can direct further exploration efforts.
Identify surface features that are geochemically connected with the geology at depth
Combined with regolith mapping data, landscape evolution information and geochemical surveys of the same region, neotectonic landform information is adding further detail to survey maps which increases the chance of new mineral discovery.
Understanding neotectonic surface features is giving greater clarity to underlying rock structures which may be of prospective interest.
Neotectonic data is another instrument in the discovery toolkit helping explorers hone in on mineral targets in the Gawlor Craton.