Reducing subjectivity in multi-commodity mineral prospectivity analyses: Modelling the west Kimberley, Australia
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© 2015 Elsevier B.V. Predicting realistic targets in underexplored regions proves a challenge for mineral explorers. Knowledge-driven prospectivity techniques assist in target prediction, and can significantly reduce the geographic search space to a few locations. The mineral prospectivity of the underexplored west Kimberley region was investigated following interpretation of regional gravity and magnetic data. Emphasis was placed on identifying geological structures that may have importance for the mineral prospectivity of the region. Subsurface structure was constrained through combined gravity and magnetic modelling along three transects. Crustal-scale structures were interpreted and investigated to determine their depth extent. These interpretations and models were linked to tectonic events and mineralization episodes in order to map the distribution of minerally prospective regions using a knowledge-driven mineral systems approach. A suite of evidence layers was created to represent geological components that led to mineralization, and then applied to each mineral system where appropriate. This approach was taken to provide a more objective basis for prospectivity modelling. The mineral systems considered were 1) magmatic Ni-sulphide, 2) carbonate-hosted base metals, 3) orogenic Au, 4) stratiform-hosted base metals and 5) intrusion-related base metals (including Sn–W, Fe-oxide–Cu–Au and Cu–Au porphyry deposits). These analyses suggest that a geologically complex belt in the Kimberley Basin at the boundary to the King Leopold Orogen is prospective for magmatic-related hydrothermal mineral systems (including Ni, Au and Cu). The Lennard Shelf is prospective for carbonate-hosted base metals around a feature known as the 67-mile high, and parts of the King Leopold Orogen are prospective for stratiform-hosted base metals. These results show that knowledge-driven mineral system modelling is effective in identifying prospectivity in regional-scale studies of underexplored areas, as well as drastically reducing the search space for explorers working in the west Kimberley.
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