The partial extraction of soil samples across the Gay's River lead-zinc deposit via a cation exchange mechanism
LE3 .A278 2011
Bachelor of Science
Most mineral deposits that are exposed at the surface have already been found by mining companies over the last 50 years. The deposits that have not been discovered are typically buried by some form of surficial materials such as gravels, tills, or volcanic ash. These materials make mineral deposits difficult to detect because they prevent direct observation of the host rocks during exploration. However, groundwater can travel through the deposit and transport metal ions from the mineral deposit to the surface where they can adsorb onto organic matter, and Fe- and Mn-oxy-hydroxides present in the soil. Extracting the labile components of the soil could detect these metal ions, and thereby detect mineralization at depth. Samples were collected along a traverse at the Gays River Pb-Zn mine near Shubenacadie, NS. The B-horizon of the soil was sampled because it likely contains an abundance of cation exchange sites. These soil samples were extracted using weak chloride salt solutions. The type of salt solution (KCl, NaCl, MgCl2 and CaCl2) and concentration (0.001, 0.01 and 0.1 M) were varied and the resulting extractions analyzed using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), producing 12 datasets. Deionized water was used as a control. Results indicate that the CaCl2 extractions at 0.1 M concentrations exhibit the highest metal concentration, but Pb and Zn anomalies occur just down-slope and down-ice of the vertical projection of mineralization in virtually every reagent and concentration. As a result, these extractions can be considered effective in detecting mineralization at depth.
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