New perspectives in mineral exploration: Fingerprinting sources, processes and pathways
CIM Vancouver 2016
Ms Diane Hanano (Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research, University of British Columbia)
The confluence of innovations in mass spectrometry (e.g., HR-MC-ICP-MS, LA-ICP-MS & NanoSIMS), major advances in geochemical modelling, and the development of online databases are dramatically expanding our ability to answer some of the most fundamental questions about where, when, why and how mineral deposits are formed. Analytical developments at university facilities, such as UBC’s Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research (PCIGR), are making significant contributions to this broad, yet integrated, field of research. The state-of-the-art instrumentation, sample preparation laboratories and resident research team at PCIGR allow for a wide range of elemental and isotopic measurements across the periodic table, from lithium to uranium, down to the micron-scale and nanogram level. The remarkable capabilities of today’s instruments enable accurate analysis of a range of materials at unparalleled spatial resolution and precision, even for small sample volumes and challenging isotope systems (e.g., Fe & Si). The new, rapidly expanding field of transition metal isotope geochemistry brings new perspectives in mineral exploration, especially for unravelling the processes of ore formation. Armed with this geochemical toolkit, researchers are exploring potential new vectors to mineralization, fingerprinting metal, fluid and magma sources, and constraining the ages and origins of some of the world’s most important mineral resources.