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TitleLaser-induced breakdown spectroscopy - an emerging analytical tool for mineral exploration
AuthorHarmon, R S; Lawley, C J MORCID logo; Watts, J; Harraden, C L; Somers, A M; Hark, R R
SourceMinerals vol. 9, issue 12, 718, 2019 p. 1-45, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20190578
Mediaon-line; digital
File formatpdf; html
Subjectsgeochemistry; mineralogy; economic geology; Science and Technology; analytical methods; spectroscopy; mineral exploration; exploration methods; geochemical analyses; grain size analysis; mineral deposits; in-field instrumentation; textural analyses; Quality control
Illustrationsschematic diagrams; spectra; tables; 3-D diagrams; schematic representations; plots; photographs; screen captures; profiles; 3-D images; photomicrographs
Released2019 11 20
AbstractThe mineral exploration industry requires new methods and tools to address the challenges of declining mineral reserves and increasing discovery costs. Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) represents an emerging geochemical tool for mineral exploration that can provide rapid, in situ, compositional analysis and high-resolution imaging in both laboratory and field and settings. We demonstrate through a review of previously published research and our new results how LIBS can be applied to qualitative element detection for geochemical fingerprinting, sample classification, and discrimination, as well as quantitative geochemical analysis, rock characterization by grain size analysis, and in situ geochemical imaging. LIBS can detect elements with low atomic number (i.e., light elements), some of which are important pathfinder elements for mineral exploration and/or are classified as critical commodities for emerging green technologies. LIBS data can be acquired in situ, facilitating the interpretation of geochemical data in a mineralogical context, which is important for unraveling the complex geological history of most ore systems. LIBS technology is available as a handheld analyzer, thus providing a field capability to acquire low-cost geochemical analyses in real time. As a consequence, LIBS has wide potential to be utilized in mineral exploration, prospect evaluation, and deposit exploitation quality control. LIBS is ideally suited for field exploration programs that would benefit from rapid chemical analysis under ambient environmental conditions.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
This article discusses a new technology called Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) and its importance in mineral exploration. The mineral exploration industry faces challenges like running out of mineral deposits and increasing costs. LIBS is a powerful tool that can help with these issues by quickly analyzing the composition of rocks and minerals.
Researchers in this publication reviewed previous studies and shared their own findings about how LIBS can be used. They showed that LIBS can detect various elements, including those that are crucial for mineral exploration and green technologies. What's great is that it can be used right in the field, providing on-the-spot, cost-effective chemical analysis.
This technology can help geologists and scientists understand the history of ore systems and evaluate potential mining sites more efficiently. It's especially valuable for field exploration, where fast chemical analysis is essential. LIBS has the potential to improve mineral exploration, evaluate prospects, and ensure the quality of mining operations.
In conclusion, this publication highlights how LIBS can revolutionize mineral exploration by making it quicker and more affordable, which is a significant advancement in the field. It offers a practical solution to address the challenges the mineral industry faces in finding and extracting valuable resources.

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