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research program 3

environmental applications of regolith geoscience

Low-density Geochemical Survey - Pilot Projects

Project Leader : Patrice de Caritat, Geoscience Australia

Start date and duration: 1 July 2007 for 6 months

Participants : Geoscience Australia


Brief project description :

Broad patterns in the geochemical composition of the regolith at or near the Earth's surface can be used to improve land-use management practices, make mineral exploration more effective and provide a geochemical baseline against which future environmental changes can be measured. Regional geochemical surveys in other countries have applications in:

  • mineral exploration
  • environmental monitoring
  • geohealth (health of crops, animals and humans as relates to geological processes and controls)
  • appropriate land-use

Unfortunately, in contrast with a growing number of countries ( China ) and multi-national regions (Baltic region), this type of information is not available in Australia at the national scale or State level.

An environmental geochemistry GIS/atlas for Australia would provide a tool to underpin key economic, environmental and societal decision-making at the national, state and region scales. Such an undertaking would fit Research Priorities as defined by DEST (2003):

•  Environmentally Sustainable Australia

•  Promoting and Maintaining Good Health

LEME has undertaken pilot studies to prove the efficacy of this approach. Thus, the precursor of the this project has substantially completed two demonstration pilot studies in contrasting climatic, vegetation, landscape, geological and land-use conditions. In these pilots, regolith material, shallow groundwaters and carefully selected plant tissues have been sampled and analysed. This gives knowledge on the geo-, hydro- and biological controls on the concentration, mobility and fate of major, minor and trace elements in the near-surface regolith environment.

The two previous pilot studies ( Riverina and Gawler pilots ) be the subject of final reports. The two studies will be compared and evaluated, and recommendations made in terms of a methodology for a potential national geochemical survey. This will take the form of a synthesis report, that will assess the market readiness' of this methodology for conducting low-density sampling based geochemical surveys.

Accordingly, the present project aims to result in :

  • a final report on the Riverina pilot
  • final reports on the Gawler pilot
  • a synthesis report on the two pilot areas, with recommendations for way forward

Deliverables (outputs) and expected impacts of research (outcomes):

1. Report, dataset and geochemical maps with the results and interpretations of the pilot project ( Riverina )
Details

•  Authors: P. de Caritat, M.E. Lech, S. Jaireth

•  Title: Regional Geochemical Surveys: Riverina Pilot Project

•  This is the final report for this pilot project. It will contain a description of methods, data, geochemical maps and interpretations

•  Journal/Forum; CRC LEME OFR

•  Proposed submission date to internal review: 1/10/07

•  Proposed submission date to journal (final copy to HO for OFR): depends on reviews

 

2. Report, dataset and geochemical maps with the results and interpretations of the pilot project ( Gawler )
Details

•  Authors: P. de Caritat, M.E. Lech, A. Kernich

•  Title: Regional Geochemical Surveys: Gawler Pilot Project

•  This is the final report for this pilot project. It will contain a description of methods, data, geochemical maps and interpretations

•  Journal/Forum; CRC LEME OFR

•  Proposed submission date to internal review: 31/12/07

•  Proposed submission date to journal (final copy to HO for OFR): depends on reviews

 

3. A synthesis report drawing conclusions from the two pilots (+ Thomson as applicable)
Details

•  Authors: P. de Caritat, M.E. Lech, A. McPherson

•  Title: Low-density geochemical mapping in Australia : pilot projects and outline of a continental-scale geochemical survey

•  This is a paper to come out of the Goldschmidt Conference, where this will be given as a keynote lecture.

•  Journal/Forum; GEEA

•  Proposed submission date to internal review: 31/12/07

•  Proposed submission date to journal (final copy to HO for OFR): depends on reviews


Outcomes

1. A trialled methodology to develop a national tool for decision-making

2. A better understanding of the residence and mobility of chemical elements in the near-surface environment of two pilot areas

 

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