The Batouri area hosts lode-gold mineralization under several-m-thick lateritic cover. Pitting to bed rock on a geochemical Au anomaly defined from previous reconnaissance soil sampling identified five horizons ranging from saprock at the base to laterite at the top. Analysis of bulk samples from each horizon by fire assay shows that most of the horizons are barren although 119ppb and 48ppb Au values were obtained from one laterite horizon and one saprolite horizon, respectively, from two separate pits. All the horizons were panned and particulate gold was also recovered only from these two horizons. The gold grains from both horizons are morphologically and compositionally indistinguishable with rare quartz, pyrite and galena inclusions. The grains have irregular, sub-rounded, bean to elongated shapes and they show a remarkable core-rim zonation. Electron microprobe analysis of the grains recorded high gold content in the rims (86.3-100wt%) and along fissures within the grains (95.1-100wt%). The cores are relatively Ag rich (11.8-14wt% Ag) while the rims (0.63-13.7wt% Ag, most of the values fall within the lower limit of this range) and fissures (0.03-5.02wt% Ag) are poor in Ag. The low Ag concentration in the rims and along fissures is attributed to preferential leaching of Ag; a process recognized in gold grains and platiniferous alloys from alluvia. The core composition of the grains is similar to that of primary gold composition in the bedrock. These results show that gold in the soil is relic particulate gold derived from the primary source with no evidence of secondary gold precipitation in the weathering cycle. In all the pits no horizon was systematically enriched in gold suggesting there has been no chemical remobilization of gold in this environment. Rather the dispersion of gold here is in the particulate form. Therefore combining particulate gold features with assay data is relevant to exploration in such tropical environments.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth-Surface Processes