Microbial indicators and detection of Cu-sulfide ore mineralization

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Bianca Patrizia Iulianella Phillips , rachel simister , Shane D Rich, Craig Hart, Peter A Winterburn, Sean A. Crowe


Rapid electrification of society is placing unprecedented demand on critical mineral and metal resources. New strategies and technologies are thus needed to promote mineral discovery in regions where deposits are likely buried deep under soil and glacial till. We show that microbial communities from different soil types change in composition in response to amendment with copper. We also show that soil microbial community fingerprinting can detect buried sulfide mineralization through thick successions of Quaternary surface cover. Indicator species abundances, indeed, better resolve the known surface projection of mineralization than geochemical analyses. Therefore, our results indicate that porphyry-style mineralization is discernible in covered terrains through soil microbial community fingerprints.




Biogeochemistry, Earth Sciences, Geochemistry, Geology, Other Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Soil Science


geobiology, geochemistry, Economic geology, Critical minerals, Porphyry copper, Soil microbial communities, DNA sequencing


Published: 2024-01-02 12:28

Last Updated: 2024-01-02 20:25


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:
R.L.S., C.J.R.H., and S.A.C. are members of a commercial entity that offers sequencing services to the mining exploration industry and others and thus declare the existence of a financial competing interest. R.L.S., C.J.R.H., and S.A.C.'s commercial affiliations do not alter adherence to GSA journals' policies on sharing data and materials. The authors declare no other competing interests.