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Open File Report 72

Regolith-landform mapping in the Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia: Towards a standardized approach

Craig, M.A., Anand, R.R., Churchward, H.M., Gozzard, J.R., Smith, R.E. and Smith, K.

Knowledge of regolith relationships is essential for control of most forms of geochemical exploration and many forms of geophysical exploration. This is particularly true for exploration in the Yilgarn Craton because of the extent of deep lateritic weathering and the complexities caused by variable degrees of dismantling and modification of the lateritic weathering profiles. It is important that the principles and approaches used or being developed for regolith mapping, establishing regolith stratigraphy, characterising regolith units, interpretation, and synthesis be understood - firstly by those engaged in development of the methods and secondly by users. Three major geoscience agencies (AGSO, CSIRO, and GSWA) are involved in mapping regolith in the Yilgarn Craton of Western Australia both collaboratively and separately. Each group has been working at a different scale as a result of their original charter, national role, or specific client needs. Each has developed techniques to suit its own purpose. There is much common ground in the way each group has mapped the regolith although, until the present initiative, this was not clearly recognised. There are still differences between the groups because of the scale of the work they undertake.

Each group is using landform as a surrogate method of defining variations in regolith types across mapping areas. The mapping methods are loosely based on CSIRO Land Systems mapping which varied with toposequence and included catena concepts used by soil scientists. Landform-based mapping schemes are internationally recognised as successful approaches to a variety of problems associated with earth resources. In Australia, AGSO has adapted the techniques to regolith mapping at a variety of scales. Those agencies mapping regolith in the Yilgarn have recognised that landform is the common element in their approach.

Several scientists from AGSO, CSIRO, GSWA, and Curtin University have been involved in a working party to clarify the individual mapping processes, classification of materials, and presentation of data in map and database form. A summary of mapping techniques, regolith and landform types, and induration categories shows the common ground. Perceived similarities and differences between working methods and definitions are defined. Proposals are suggested for the development of fully integrated mapping methods and for regolith and landform terminology. The approaches also take into account the need to maintain differences in order to account for purpose and scale variations in the work.

Last updated: Thursday, January 06, 2000 11:47 AM


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