Using insects to search for gold
2012 12 20

Cheryl Santa Maria | TheWEatherNetwork.com

Researchers have come up with an environmentally-friendly way to mine for gold in western Australia.

Researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia (CSIRO) have found that ant and termite mounds can be used to indicate the presence of gold and other minerals beneath the earth.

According to CSIRO, insects could be a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly method of mineral exploration.

Traditional processes often involve drilling, which can be inaccurate and expensive in Australia.

Parts of the country’s landscape is covered with eroded material, making it difficult to gauge what type of minerals exist underground.

Ants and termites "bring up small particles that contain gold from the deposit’s fingerprint, or halo, and effectively stockpile it in their mounds," said Dr. Aaron Stewart, an entomologist at CSIRO, in a statement.

"Our recent research has shown that small ant and termite mounds that may not look like much on the surface, are just as valuable in finding gold as the large African mounds that stand several metres tall."

The findings have been published online at PLOS One.


Article from: theweathernetwork.com





Termites: So Rich Their Nests Are Made Of Gold
From: InsideScience.org

Termites are unearthing gold in Australia, and scientists suggest their nests could reveal where miners might strike it rich.

Mineral resources currently account for roughly one-third of Australia’s exports. One promising site for gold down under is the Moolart Well deposit in the Western Australian Goldfields region, but gold remains difficult to find there even after nearly 150 years of mining.


A close-up image of a Giant Northern worker termite.

"The problem that we face in mining exploration is that a layer of eroded material is covering the gold, effectively hiding it," said researcher Aaron Stewart, an entomologist at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

Now Stewart and his colleagues suggest miners might want to rely on termites as miniature prospectors. The nests of the insects apparently can hold gold dust, revealing hints of treasures hidden deep underground.

"Using termite nests could help exploration companies narrow down the area that they need to drill," Stewart said. "This has the potential to save a lot of money."

Scientists have often relied on insects to guide exploration. For instance, paleontologists often root through ant mounds to look for any miniature fossil bones and teeth the insects might have carried back to their nests.

Stewart and his colleagues analyzed samples from 22 nests of the termite Tumulitermes tumuli, as well as the surrounding soil. These mounds were located in a known gold-rich area.

The researchers found the termite nests contained high concentrations of gold, with levels five to six times higher than concentrations found more than 16 feet away from the mounds. The scientists detailed their findings in the November issue of the journal Geochemistry: Exploration, Environment, Analysis.

"The amount of gold found in the nests is actually very low," Stewart said. "It gives us the indication of a hidden deposit, but you can’t see the gold and you wouldn’t be able to extract any meaningful amount from the nest."

"The termites are not specifically selecting gold to bring into their nests," Stewart added. "It is a fortunate consequence of their habit of building nests, in part from material sourced a few meters below the surface."

Their findings suggest the insects can burrow three to 13 feet into the earth to reach gravel laden with traces of gold surrounding the deposit of the precious metal. "It is surprising that such small nests are able to vertically move enough material to reveal the buried resource," Stewart said.

[...]

Read the full article at: insidescience.org








Related Articles
Bug-Eared: Human and Insect Ears Share Similar Structures
Why Aren’t Insects Human-Size? (Just be happy they’re not)
Nuclear butterflies’ cause stir: Mutant insects traced to Fukushima
In Missouri, Insect Ice Cream Flies Off the Shelf
Insects better meat than cows: researchers
There’s gold in them anthills


Latest News from our Front Page

Norway Joins the Race to Develop Killer Robots
2014 10 24
Norway is a large exporter of weapons, which makes the resolution of the debate about creating killer robots an important issue for everyone.  One could debate the overall merits or failings of robotic systems, but an area that clearly has become a point for concern on all sides is the emergence of "killer robots." According to robotics pioneer, David Hanson, ...
Gene That Once Aided Survival in the Arctic Found to Have Negative Impact on Health Today
2014 10 23
In individuals living in the Arctic, researchers have discovered a gene variant that arose thousands of years ago and most likely provided an evolutionary advantage for processing high-fat diets or for surviving in a cold environment; however, the variant also seems to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and infant mortality in today’s northern populations. {snip} “Our work ...
The Ebola hoax: questions, answers, and the false belief in the “One It”
2014 10 23
“The Reality Manufacturing Company doesn’t just sell ‘fake paintings’ that are easy to spot. No. They also sell images that are geared to mesh with people’s deeply held instincts and thereby produce rigid false beliefs. People are sure that if they gave up such beliefs, their world would fall apart and blow away in the wind.” ...
New Controversial Theory Suggests "Hobbits" Were Not Human - Who Were These Mysterious Beings?
2014 10 23
The origin of the Hobbit species remains a challenging subject to scientists. The Hobbit’s discovery confirmed the view that the Earth was once populated by many species of human, but new research the Hobbit’s were not human at all! So, who were these mysterious beings? Where did they come from? The idea that our species, Homo sapiens, was the only species of human on ...
Right into enemy hands? ISIS shows off new weapons allegedly airdropped by US (VIDEO)
2014 10 23
Islamic State has published a new video in which a jihadist shows off brand-new American hardware, which was purportedly intended for the Kurds they are fighting in the Syrian border town of Kobani. The undated video, posted by the unofficial IS mouthpiece “a3maq news”, sees a jihadist showing several boxes of munitions with English-language markings, with a parachute spread out on ...
More News »