General Geology

1988 Edition

Atmogeochemical prospecting

  • A. S. Joyce
Reference work entry

This aspect of exploration geochemistry (q.v.) may be defined as prospecting on the basis of pathfinder atmosphile elements (q.v. in Vol. IVA) or compounds. Atmophile substances exist as gases under conditions of pressure and temperature that prevail near the Earth's surface and, therefore, seek to enter the atmosphere.

Because of the speed and economy with which aircraft or ground vehicles can sample the atmosphere, explorers have always hoped that atmogeochemical surveying procedures might be developed to search for ore deposits. Particular attention has centered on the use of Hg in sulfide prospecting, Rn in uranium prospecting, and hydrocarbons in petroleum prospecting. Useful results have been obtained for these gases using soil gas, gas dissolved in water, and gas entrapped in soil or rock. Limited technical success has resulted from the use of airborne or vehicle-borne detectors, but experiments are continuing. In addition to the desire for an airborne regional geochemical...

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© Van Nostrand Reinhold Company Inc. 1988

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  • A. S. Joyce

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