Recent research, conducted by CSIRO and University of Toronto scientists has uncovered a potential revolution for Australia’s mining industry that may be the key to identifying more precious metal deposits more quickly than ever before.
Research has found that dense mixes of some of Australia’s valuable metals such as gold, copper and platinum are surfacing from the depths by attaching to sulphur bubbles and floating to the Earth’s surface. This anomaly is being caused by volcanic eruptions during which, these gases are expelled into the atmosphere from above magma reservoirs in the Earth’s crust.
It was originally thought that, due to the density of their main carrier phase, sulphide melt, the sulphur would settle at the bottom of magma reservoirs. The new research turns this idea around as experiments have shown that Gold, copper, platinum and nickel bind to molten iron sulphide.
…dense mixes of some of Australia’s valuable metals such as gold, copper and platinum are surfacing from the depths by attaching to sulphur bubbles and floating to the Earth’s surface.
The process for discovery occurs after heating magma materials, when drops of the sulphide melt attach to water vapour bubbles due to surface tension and the resulting compound floats. These subsequent deposits are shallower in the crust and are easier to access.
This system also provides a method for releasing large amounts of sulphur into the atmosphere, affecting climate.
The main impact of this discovery is that scientists now have alternative clues to use as identifiers of new and untapped ore deposits in the search for more precious metals to potentially mine and export.
In ongoing research, the authors now plan to determine whether or not nickel deposits in sulphide melt are also transported by water vapour bubbles.
Original Source: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/steam-bubbles-carry-gold-and-sulfur-earth%E2%80%99s-depths