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regolith geoscience


Exploring through cover in the Curnamona

Project Leader : Adrian Fabris, Primary Industries and Resources SA

Start date and duration: 01/07/05 30/06/08

Participants : Primary Industries and Resources SA, Adelaide University, Geoscience Australia, Australian National University. External collaborators: Dirk Kirste (Simon Fraser University, Canada), Roger Fidler (Consultant), Keith Scott, (Consultant), Professor Xianrong Luo ( Guilin University China ), Don Hoover (formerly USGS).


Brief project description :

This project integrates research carried out in the Curnamona Province , which includes work conducted under the LEME I Basins Program, the Western NSW Regolith Project of LEME II and current industry, government and research agency activities. We aim to develop comprehensive geochemical and geophysical exploration strategies to target specific mineral deposit types in areas of regolith cover. The primary targeted mineralisation is Cu-Au, Pb-Zn and U. The relation of these types of mineralisation to chemical and geophysical phenomena in the Curnamona is well documented. However, exploration methods are not sufficiently refined in areas of transported regolith cover to allow confidence in developing exploration strategies. We will establish the most viable exploration strategies for these conditions by first developing our understanding of the geochemical and geophysical character of the deposit types, and through that establishing the processes of dispersion most likely to result in the physico-chemical expression of the mineralisation.

This project will apply established and new (for the region) geochemical, biogeochemical and geophysical exploration techniques in areas of known mineralisation (Goulds Dam, Kalkaroo, Polygonum, Portia, McBrides Dam, Christmas Ball) to will test the viability of the various methods. In order to establish a rigorous sampling program it is our intention to address three physico-chemical components of buried mineralisation:

  1. geophysical expression of mineralisation in primary/secondary form
  2. geochemical expression of mineralisation in primary/secondary form
  3. dispersion through cover from deposit to surface

The project consists of a series of sub-projects that address exploration methodologies at scales appropriate to District Prospect Target dimensions in terms of the geochemical mechanisms of formation and subsequent dispersion of mineralisation.

Sub-projects include:

  • Targeted geochemistry and regolith studies CurnaMinEx A
  • Geophysical Signatures at selected Mineral Prospects CurnaMinEx B
  • Understanding Geochemical Signatures CurnaMinEx C
  • 3D regolith mapping CurnaMinEx D

The overall impact of this project will be the enhanced ability for exploration in areas of regolith cover in Australia.

Deliverables (outputs) over total project time frame and expected impacts of research (outcomes):


•  Surface regolith maps

•  3D models of regolith cover of Prospects

•  3D models of regolith cover of basin at regional scale

•  Baseline geochemical maps and databases

•  Interpretive reports (geochemical and geophysical)*

•  Analytical report for applied geochemical techniques

•  3D process (reactive transport) models

•  Explorer's guide for the region

•  Abstracts, publications, presentations

*interim and final reports



•  More effective geochemical exploration through cover using process based understanding and combined geochemical and geophysical techniques

•  Field testing of specific geochemical sample collection methods (CHIM, biota, partial/selective extraction, gas phase)



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