University of Oulu

Anne Taivalkoski, Pertti Sarala, Yann Lahaye, Sari Lukkari, Dale Sutherland, Snow in mineral exploration – Examples and practices in glaciated terrain, Journal of Geochemical Exploration, Volume 200, 2019, Pages 1-12, ISSN 0375-6742,

Snow in mineral exploration : examples and practices in glaciated terrain

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Author: Taivalkoski, Anne1; Sarala, Pertti1,2; Lahaye, Yann3;
Organizations: 1Geological Survey of Finland, P. O. Box 77, FI-96101 Rovaniemi, Finland
2Oulu Mining School, P.O. Box 3000, FI-90014, University of Oulu, Finland
3Geological Survey of Finland, P. O. Box 96, FI-02151 Espoo, Finland
4Activation Laboratories Ltd., 41 Bittern St., Ancaster, ON L9G 4V5, Canada
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 6.9 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2019
Publish Date: 2021-01-26


Although the origin of the snow is atmospheric, heat and gasses coming from underlying soil affect the concentration of hydrocarbons and elements in snow. For testing the use of snow in geochemical exploration, a test campaign was carried out in three different mineralization types in northern Finland: Au-Co, P-REE and Cu mineralizations. The snow samples were collected from the bottom of snow cover in two consecutive years. Two methods for analysing geochemical signatures of mineralized bedrock were applied to these snow samples: Spatiotemporal Geochemical Hydrocarbons (SGH) and ultra-trace elements determination by single collector high resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (SC-HR-ICP-MS). The SGH method is based on detection of the hydrocarbons that are decomposition products of bacteria that use specific mineralization in their growth phase. In the case of the inductively coupled mass spectrometry, the content of a wide range of elements was determined. The results of both methods showed that the traces inherited from the tested mineralization can be observed in snow. The SGH signature located the Au-Co mineralization using an Au template and the Cu mineralization using a Cu template, although low signal repeatability may be the weakness. The response to the P-REE mineralization with a Polymetallic template was unclear. An improvement was achieved by reinterpreting the result with a customized template for REE. In addition, the repeatability with reinterpreted results showed similarities in the results between the sampling rounds. In the case of the SC-HR-ICP-MS method, results for several elements (e.g. As, Cu, Fe) showed a clear response over the mineralized zones for all three mineralization types. Mineral exploration would benefit using of snow as sampling material: this activity leaves virtually no footprint. Further studies are needed to improve the confidence and reliability in the use of snow as a sampling medium in mineral exploration.

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Series: Journal of geochemical exploration
ISSN: 0375-6742
ISSN-E: 1879-1689
ISSN-L: 0375-6742
Volume: 200
Pages: 1 - 12
DOI: 10.1016/j.gexplo.2019.01.006
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1171 Geosciences
Funding: The funding for the research was provided by Tekes Green Mining Programme (project number 2549/31/2012) and the Geological Survey of Finland.
Copyright information: © 2019. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license