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TitleExploration potential of fine-fraction heavy mineral concentrates from till using automated mineralogy: a case study from the Izok Lake Cu-Zn-Pb-Ag VMS deposit, Nunavut, Canada
AuthorLougheed, H D; McClenaghan, M BORCID logo; Layton-Matthews, D; Leybourne, M
SourceMinerals vol. 10, issue 4, 310, 2020 p. 1-33, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20200062
PublisherMDPI AG
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf; html
AreaIzok Lake
Lat/Long WENS-115.0000 -108.0000 68.0000 64.0000
Subjectseconomic geology; mineralogy; geochemistry; Science and Technology; Nature and Environment; gahnite; sediment dispersal; indicator elements; lead zinc deposits; silver; copper; sulphide deposits; mineral deposits; mineral exploration; exploration methods; mineral potential; drift prospecting; till samples; till geochemistry; till analyses; bedrock geology; heavy mineral samples; glacial history; ice flow; Automation; ice-flow directions; Phanerozoic; Cenozoic; Quaternary; Precambrian; Proterozoic
Illustrationsgeoscientific sketch maps; tables; schematic diagrams; pie charts; photomicrographs; schematic representations; bar graphs; profiles
Released2020 03 30
AbstractExploration under thick glacial sediment cover is an important facet of modern mineral exploration in Canada and northern Europe. Till heavy mineral concentrate (HMC) indicator mineral methods are well established in exploration for diamonds, gold, and base metals in glaciated terrain. Traditional methods rely on visual examination of >250 µm HMC material, however this study applies modern automated mineralogical methods (mineral liberation analysis (MLA)) to investigate the finer (<250 µm) fraction of till HMC. Automated mineralogy of finer material allows for rapid collection of precise compositional and morphological data from a large number (10,000-100,000) of heavy mineral grains in a single sample. The Izok Lake volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposit, one of the largest undeveloped Zn-Cu resources in North America, has a well-documented fan-shaped indicator mineral dispersal train and was used as a test site for this study. Axinite, a VMS indicator mineral difficult to identify optically in HMC, is identified in till samples up to 8 km down ice. Epidote and Fe-oxide minerals are identified, with concentrations peaking proximal to mineralization. Corundum and gahnite are intergrown in till samples immediately down ice of mineralization. Till samples also contain chalcopyrite and galena up to 8 km down ice of mineralization, an increase from 1.3 km for sulfide minerals in till previously reported for coarse HMC fractions. Some of these sulfide grains occur as inclusions within chemically and physically robust mineral grains and would not be identified visually in the coarse HMC visual counts. Best practices for epoxy mineral grain mounting and abundance reporting are presented along with the automated mineralogy of till samples down ice of the deposit.

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