Quantitative mineral resource assessments used by the United States Geological Survey are based on deposit models. These assessments consist of three parts: (1) selecting appropriate deposit models and delineating on maps areas permissive for each type of deposit; (2) constructing a grade-tonnage model for each deposit model; and (3) estimating the number of undiscovered deposits of each type. In this article, I focus on the estimation of undiscovered deposits using two methods: the deposit density method and the target counting method. In the deposit density method, estimates are made by analogy with well-explored areas that are geologically similar to the study area and that contain a known density of deposits per unit area. The deposit density method is useful for regions where there is little or no data. This method was used to estimate undiscovered low-sulfide gold-quartz vein deposits in Venezuela. Estimates can also be made by counting targets such as mineral occurrences, geophysical or geochemical anomalies, or exploration "plays" and by assigning to each target a probability that it represents an undiscovered deposit that is a member of the grade-tonnage distribution. This method is useful in areas where detailed geological, geophysical, geochemical, and mineral occurrence data exist. Using this method, porphyry copper-gold deposits were estimated in Puerto Rico. ?? 1993 Oxford University Press.
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Estimation of undiscovered deposits in quantitative mineral resource assessments-examples from Venezuela and Puerto Rico