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Stream-sediment sampling in Northern Ireland Photo Copyright: BGS©NERC

During the Mineral Reconnaissance Programme the BGS evaluated and applied a wide range of techniques to exploration for many deposit types in Britain.

  • Stream–sediment geochemical surveys work well in Britain, particularly in upland areas where drainage is well developed.
  • Soil and basal till sampling have been effectively applied in follow–up surveys throughout the country.
  • The BGS has extensive holdings of geophysical data relevant to mineral exploration. The distribution of geochemical sample sites and the locations of geophysical survey areas can be seen on the BGS GeoIndex.
  • Petrological and mineralogical methods were extensively used in MRP investigations and continue to be employed in current projects.
  • Microchemical analysis of mineral grains has been used to provide information on bedrock sources of alluvial grains and to characterise styles of mineralisation.

The application of these techniques in specific areas is reviewed in the Exploration Guide. Mineral exploration methods in Britain provides detailed guidance on recommended procedures for the collection of stream–sediment and panned–concentrate samples in the UK.

Microchemical maps of a single gold grain showing the distribution of gold, BGS©NERCMicrochemical maps of a single gold grain showing the distribution of copper, BGS©NERC

Prospectivity analysis

Gold prospectivity map for the Dalradian rocks of north–west Northern Ireland, BGS©NERC

Prospectivity analysis is a GIS–based predictive spatial analysis technique used to integrate multiple exploration datasets in the framework of a mineral deposit model. The output of the process is a map displaying favourability for the occurrence of a particular mineral deposit type. This powerful tool for the identification and ranking of exploration targets has been applied to studies of prospectivity for orogenic gold, epithermal gold and stratiform base–metal deposits in various parts of Britain. Prospectivity analysis has most recently been applied to the gold potential of the Dalradian rocks of north–west Northern Ireland.