Rapid surface water analysis for mineral exploration

  October 20, 2015 - Rocks, soils and the sediments found in stream beds are the most common materials collected by explorers looking for new mineral deposits. But in areas where access is difficult, like the coastal mountain ranges of British Columbia, thick forests on steep mountainsides make it difficult to sample these materials.

Water, however, is plentiful and can carry tiny amounts of metals and other pathfinder elements away from the source of the metals. Mineral explorers can trace these back to the source but don't often sample surface water because it is perceived as difficult to sample and water analysis at commercial laboratories is quite costly.

Until now. As part of an innovative project supported by Geoscience BC and industry, researchers Ron Yehia and David Heberlein have demonstrated that field-portable photometers can provide good quality, same-day water analyses, at a lower cost and with shorter turnaround time than a laboratory.

Portable spectrophotometers, or photometers, measure light as it passes through a water sample. By adding a few drops of various chemicals to each water sample, testers are able to detect tiny quantities of metals, from aluminum to zinc.

During August and October 2014, researchers Yehia and Heberlein collected water samples around the Poison Mountain copper-gold porphyry prospect, about 100km northwest of Lillooet in southern British Columbia. They tested the effectiveness of the Palintest Photometer 8000 by comparing results from water samples analyzed in the field with laboratory analyses of the same samples.

Their results show that a field-portable photometer can be an effective tool for obtaining rapid and low cost measurements of a relatively small selection of elements in surface waters, providing an additional tool for explorers searching for surface and buried mineralization.

Download Geoscience BC Report 2015-17: Use of a Field Portable Photometer for Rapid Geochemical Analysis of Stream and Spring Waters: A Case History from Poison Mountain, British Columbia or click below to explore the project in Earth Science Viewer.

For more information, please contact: Kylie Williams, Communications Manager, Geoscience BC 604.662.4147

Geoscience BC is a trusted partner providing earth science to encourage investment that benefits all British Columbians. www.geosciencebc.com
Follow Us On Twitter Follow Us on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook