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
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
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
EU on high alert as Germany accepts Ebola patients
2014 07 30
A German hospital has agreed to treat Ebola patients amid widespread fears of a possible outbreak of the deadly disease in Europe. Over 670 people have already been killed by the disease in West Africa with doctors struggling to control the epidemic.
A German hospital in Hamburg agreed to accept patients following a request from the World Health Organization (WHO), Deutsche ...
Bolivia declares Israel terrorist regime
2014 07 30
Bolivia has declared Israel a “terrorist state” and revoked a visa exemption agreement with Tel Aviv in protest at the ongoing Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip.
The move "means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state," President Evo Morales said during talks with a group of educators in the city of Cochabamba ...
Pagan Traditions: Mysteries of medieval graffiti in England’s churches
2014 07 30
Medieval graffiti of straw kings, pentagrams, crosses, ships and "demon traps" have been offering a tantalising glimpse into England’s past. What do the pictures reveal about life in the Middle Ages?
A project to record the graffiti, which began in Norfolk, has now been rolled out to other areas and is gradually spreading across England.
Armed with just a torch and a ...
More Gigantic Holes Appear in Siberia’s ’End of the World’
2014 07 30
Is it the end of the world in Siberia’s ’End of the World’?
Scientists suspect not, but they’re still investigating the strange and alarming holes that are swallowing up the Siberian north.
This week two new holes have been discovered, and with similar characteristics as the first reported hole: a very deep shaft with smooth sides, debris surrounding the rim, and water ...
BLACKLISTED: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist
2014 07 30
The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.
The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, ...
|More News » |