Geosciences raises Tanami gold potential

31 May 2012

Hemi60 Vibroseis vibrator trucks carrying out a seismic transect in the Tanami desert. Copyright Geoscience Australia.

Hemi60 Vibroseis vibrator trucks
carrying out a seismic transect
in the Tanami desert.
© Geoscience Australia.

Investigations by geochronologists into the age of gold deposits in the Tanami region on the Northern Territory/Western Australia border have added weight to the possibility for further major deposits in the area.

There are numerous active and historic gold mines in the Tanami region, including the largest gold operation in the Northern Territory, the Callie Mine.

Geochronological studies suggest that these deposits, which extend from Sandpiper in the northwest to Dodger in the southeast, formed during one event at 1810-1795 million years ago which overlapped a period of granite intrusion in the region.

Geochronologist, Dr Geoff Fraser, said that analysis of gold-related mica from the Sandpiper deposit in Western Australia using Argon-Argon (Ar-Ar) dating techniques aligned with dating results from other deposits in the region.

“The similarity between the age of gold from the Sandpiper mine and the nearby Coyote mine, along with that for the Callie mine in the Northern Territory, suggests there was a single, region-wide geological event which resulted in the gold being deposited,” Dr Fraser said.

“This regional scale geochronology, coupled with interpretation of deep seismic surveys across the region, indicates that further significant gold deposits may be discovered in the region,” he said.

Geologist, Dr David Huston, said that the seismic data obtained by Geoscience Australia indicates that the event which resulted in gold deposits in the Tanami region was the last in a series of events.

He said the events produced faults and folds which allowed hot hydrothermal fluids to concentrate and deposit gold to form the major deposits of Tanami region.

“The seismic data shows that the geological features in the areas associated with the Tanami gold deposits cover a much wider area extending into the northern Arunta geological region,” Dr Huston said.

“This combination of geochronology, geological and geophysical data has resulted in a better understanding of the underlying geology of the region which will allow explorers and mining companies to better target potential resources,” he said.

More information can be found on the geochronology investigation in the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences and on the seismic survey in Tectonophysics.

Topic contact: Last updated: October 4, 2013