• August 27, 2019

The Role of Geochemistry in Understanding Mineral Systems; AEGC Conference 2019

Published on August 27th, 2019

Principal Geologist, Dr Brauhart will be presenting at the AEGC Conference 2019 on ‘The Role of Geochemistry in Understanding Mineral Systems’ between September 2-5, 2019 at the Crown Perth, Western Australia.

The conference is jointly hosted by the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG), Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (ASEG), and Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia (PESA).

The theme for the 2019 conference is “Data to Discovery”. The AEGC technical program committee will focus on Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry and how these are applied in exploration for both Petroleum and Mineral systems in Australasia and the wider Asia-Pacific region.

The major sub-themes include:

  • New technologies
  • New information from old data
  • Local understanding from regional context
  • Workflows and methods that reduce cost/turnaround on projects
  • Cross disciplinary co-ordination
  • Case studies
  • Interacting and communicating science to the wider community.

The inclusion of dedicated streams for Australian basins, discovery techniques, mineral mapping, and remote sensing applications will be a a vital component of the 2019 conference.

Carl will present on Wednesday 3 September at 11.30am.

ABSTRACT – The Role of Geochemistry in Understanding Mineral Systems

The mineral system concept is a valuable framework to use for mineral exploration because it allows the user to interpret their data with more flexibility than for traditional ore deposit models. Better context is provided by a well constructed mineral deposit model because fundamental processes can be adapted to a broad range of systems.

Geochemistry adds much needed detail to any mineral deposit model in three main areas: (1) immobile element geochemistry to better constrain lithological units and define a more detailed stratigraphy, (2) alteration geochemistry to quantify mass balance leading to a better understanding of hydrothermal fluid flow and potential trap sites, and (3) metal enrichment signatures and how they vary across a mineral system so that exploration can be focussed on those parts of the mineral system that have the highest likelihood of exploration success.


The mineral systems concept (McCuaig et al., 2010) is a helpful framework into which we can place our exploration data, interrogate it and erect new hypotheses for testing. Correctly used, it is more flexible than traditional ore deposit models which have more fixed assumptions, and it also encompasses a larger volume of rock, taking into account energy inputs, metal source regions, flow paths, trap sites and spent fluid paths.

Whole-rock geochemistry is a cheap and widely available tool that can be used to advance understanding of a mineral system in three major ways:

1. Immobile element lithogeochemistry to constrain stratigraphy,

2. Alteration geochemistry to quantify mass balance changes along hydrothermal flow paths, and

3. Metal enrichment signatures related to mineralisation.

Each of these areas of investigation can be applied at any scale, and there are procedures specific to each of them. Following the mineral systems approach makes the explorer more mindful of the importance of scale when interpreting geochemical and other data. It also encourages that explorer to try and fit “the pieces of the puzzle” into a coherent whole, and in so doing increases the likelihood that sensible exploration targets will be tested in a logical fashion.

The Role of Geochemistry in Understanding Mineral Systems


Carl Brauhart

Dr Carl Brauhart
Exploration Geologist

Dr Brauhart is an exploration geologist with more than 20 years’ experience in gold and base-metal exploration, spending much of that time working in frontier areas of Western Australia on grassroots projects. He has a particular interest in geochemistry, both exploration geochemistry and ore deposit geochemistry, and a passion for field work, particularly mapping. Carl has maintained a close association with the Centre for Exploration Targeting at the University of Western Australia where he is the lead researcher on the OSNACA Project (an ore deposit geochemistry research effort).


Click here to connect with our presenter.

How can we help?

Contact us to discuss how we can help your organisation.