22 February 2007

Australia was once awash with gold, says new geological study

"The chemistry of gold in brine suggests that water has a lot higher capacity to carry gold than we have been able to measure. We have very salty groundwater in parts of Australia, particularly in some of our gold-bearing regions," ABC quoted him as saying.Dr Frank Reith and his team, also a part of the study, found that bacteria played a key role in forming gold grains and nuggets. They found that certain species of bacteria removed gold from the soil and deposited pure grains of it around them.Dr McPhail said these two pieces of evidence became important when scientists looked back millions of years, to periods when Australian rocks were subject to a process known as deep weathering."During these times, the rocks were being weathered by interaction with the atmosphere and water," Dr McPhail said."That weathering may have taken place during times when much of Australia was less arid than it is now. Over millions of years you get climate changes. There were periods when a lot of Australia was tropical," added Dr Reith.Dr McPhail said these hot, wet conditions would have provided the ideal environment for gold-moving bugs and for water to contain higher gold concentrations."During those times, and we're talking about 60 million years ago or 12 million years ago for example, groundwater may have contained more gold," he said."The work could prove a boon for mineral explorers," he added."If gold was more mobile in the geological past, such as during deep weathering episodes, then this work could help focus exploration in weathered terrains. It could point to new deposits," he said. (ANI)

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