Surface Till Geochemistry and Implications for Exploration, Black River-Matheson Area, Northeastern Ontario

Exploration & Mining Geology, Vol. 1, No. 4, 1992

M.B. McClenaghan Ontario Geological Survey, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Matheson area of northeastern Ontario is of great interest for mineral exploration because of its geological similarities with the adjacent Timmins, Kirkland Lake and Larder Lake gold camps. Exploration in the area, however, is hampered by the presence of an extensive and thick cover of glacial sediments. For this reason, till geochemistry has become an important exploration method. The Ontario Geological Survey's Black River-Matheson (BRiM) reconnaissance till sampling project, carried out between 1984 and 1988, was designed to aid exploration in the Matheson area by documenting the Quaternary stratigraphy and providing a database of till geochemistry. Till samples were collected by backhoe trenching of surface pits in areas of thin drift (<5 m) and by sonic overburden drilling in areas of thicker drift. This paper summarizes the results from the shallow till sampling component of the BRiM project. Two hundred and eighty-two surface samples were collected from Matheson Till, the youngest till sheet in the area, which was deposited during the Late Wisconsinan. For each sample, the non-magnetic heavy mineral (>3.3 S.G.) and fine (-250 mesh) till fractions were analyzed geochemically. In addition, visible gold grains were recovered by panning the heavy mineral fraction. Five areas that display multi-element anomalies in both till fractions warrant further investigation: (1) western Egan Township, overlying the Bradley Lake Syenite; (2) around and south of the Munro and Croesus mines, in Munro and Guibord townships; (3) central Garrison Township overlying the Garrison Stock; (4) south of Ore Car Lake in northern Thackeray Township; and (5) southeastern Harker Township. In these areas, Matheson Till has a local provenance and the bedrock sources for these anomalies are nearby in the up-ice (north-northwest) direction. Due to the fine-grained nature of gold in bedrock deposits in the BRiM area, the small size of most gold grains recovered from till samples (< 50 ^m) and the variable distribution of gold in the heavy mineral concentrate and fine fractions, the fine fraction in addition to the more commonly used heavy mineral concentrate should be used for gold exploration. Surface till samples have been affected by weathering to a depth of < 3 m. Weathered till is characterized by a very low carbonate content in the matrix fraction, the absence of sulfide grains in the heavy mineral concentrate and higher concentrations of copper, nickel and zinc in the fine fraction than in the heavy mineral concentrate. As a result of the weathered/ oxidized nature of the surface till samples, the fine fraction is a better sampling medium for base metal exploration.