The applicability of G-BASE stream sediment geochemistry as a combined geological mapping, and prospective exploration tool for As-Co-Cu-Ni mineralisation across Cumbria, UK.

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Adam Eskdale , Sean Johnson, Amy Gough


Stream sediment geochemistry is a useful tool to analyse the geochemistry of the local geology within the source catchment area. This has significant applicability within the field of mineral exploration where understanding regional lithological geochemistry is needed, facilitating the identification of critical metal deposits. Successful identification of these deposits is essential to help tackle the deficit of these metals supply chains, especially for cobalt. This is in order to meet future carbon-neutral technological demand as part of global initiatives towards a more environmentally sustainable society.
We make use of the UK Geochemical Baseline Survey of the Environment (G-BASE) dataset to demonstrate that stream sediment geochemical data has the potential to be used as a useful tool for isolating potential Energy Critical Elements (ECEs) in host rocks across the UK Lake District. We reduced the dimensionality of the G-BASE stream sediment data, creating geochemical maps that identify a combination of volcanic, sedimentary, and plutonic lithologies lining up geological boundaries from established 50k scale geological maps of the area. This was conducted through a combined statistical and mapping approach within QGIS and ioGAS.
Furthermore, we identified average ore metal concentrations (Ag, As, Bi, Co, Cu, Mo, Ni, Sn, Zn) for the Skiddaw Group and the Borrowdale Volcanic Group, two established host groups for As-Co-Cu-Ni mineralisation. Average concentrations of Co in the Skiddaw have been modelled to be 63.26 ppm, and in the Borrowdale volcanics to be 26.86 ppm. These values, combined with As, Cu, and Ni modelled concentrations, and other available exploration-related data (structural maps, underlying batholith topography, mining history etc.) have allowed us to identify 10 prospective areas of interest for possible As-Co-Cu-Ni mineralisation across these two lithological groups. This workflow has strong applicability within critical metal exploration in other, more prospective regions across the globe.



Earth Sciences, Geochemistry, Geology, Multivariate Analysis, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Statistics and Probability


G-BASE, stream sediment geochemistry, cobalt, mineral exploration, Lake District, critical metals, Stream sediment geochemistry, cobalt, mineral exploration, Lake District, Critical metals


Published: 2023-01-18 14:31

Last Updated: 2023-01-18 14:31


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:

Data Availability (Reason not available):
Unable to share raw data due to data licensing agreement. The authors would like to thank the BGS for providing access to the G-BASE data used in this study, data derived from 1:50,000 scale BGS Digital Data under Licence No. 2021/026 British Geological Survey © UKRI. All rights reserved.