The applicability of G-BASE stream sediment geochemistry as a combined geological mapping, and prospective exploration tool for As-Co-Cu-Ni mineralisation across Cumbria, UK

Adam Eskdale, Sean Johnson, Amy Gough

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Stream sediment geochemistry is a useful tool to analyse the geochemistry of the local geology within the source catchment area. This has significant applicability within the field of mineral exploration where understanding regional lithological geochemistry and how this is reflected in stream sediment geochemistry is needed, facilitating the identification of critical metal deposits. Successful identification of these deposits is essential to help
tackle the deficit of these metals supply chains, especially for cobalt. This is in order to meet future carbon neutral technological demand as part of global initiatives towards a more environmentally sustainable society. We make use of the UK Geochemical Baseline Survey of the Environment (G-BASE) dataset to demonstrate this stream sediment geochemical data has the potential to be used as a useful tool for isolating potential critical
metals in host rocks across the UK Lake District. We reduced the dimensionality of the G-BASE stream sediment data, creating geochemical maps that identify a combination of volcanic, sedimentary, and plutonic lithologies lining up geological boundaries from established 50 k scale geological maps of the area. This was conducted through a combined statistical and mapping approach within QGIS and ioGAS. Furthermore, we derived average ore metal concentrations (Ag, As, Bi, Co, Cu, Mo, Ni, Sn, Zn) for the Skiddaw Group and the Borrowdale Volcanic Group, two established host lithologies for As-Co-Cu-Ni mineralisation. Average concentrations of Co in the Skiddaw have been modelled to be ~63 ppm, and ~ 28 ppm in the Borrowdale volcanics. These values, combined with As, Cu, and Ni modelled concentrations, and other available exploration-related data (structural maps, underlying batholith topography, mining history etc.) have allowed us to identify 10 prospective areas of interest for possible As-Co-Cu-Ni mineralisation. This workflow has strong applicability within critical metal exploration in the UK and other, prospective regions across the globe.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107297
Number of pages20
Early online date18 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

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