Biogeochemical Prospecting in Glaciated Terrain of the Canadian Precambrian Shield

CIM Bulletin, 1971

W. J. WOLFE, Geochemist, Ontario Dept. of Mines and Northern Affairs, Toronto, Ontario

THE DETECTION OF BURIED MINERAL DEPOSITS by chemical analysis of vegetation (biogeochemistry) or visual observation of plant cover type (geobotany) is based on fundamentally simple principles. The root systems of vegetation collect aqueous solutions from a large volume of moist ground below surface and act as efficient sampling mechanisms by providing a composite sample of a reasonably large area. These aqueous solutions constitute a source of ore-associated metals that may ultimately be concentrated in the upper parts of the plant. Although certain plant species have a limited ability to break down primary minerals and extract elements, biogeochemistry normally detects only metals capable of moving in solution. Metal concentrations in the underlying soil must therefore exist in a form that is immediately available for uptake by the root systems - generally in the ionic state in aqueous solution or in readily exchangeable form on the surfaces of soil clay minerals. As a result, biogeochemical responses are closely related to variables such as soil pH, Eh, exchange capacity and complexing agents that control metal mobility in the surface environment.
Keywords: Canada, copper, metals, Plants, Prospecting, Soil, Soils, Vegetation