Map scale effects on estimating the number of undiscovered mineral deposits

Natural Resources Research

DOI: 10.1007/s11053-008-9068-7



Estimates of numbers of undiscovered mineral deposits, fundamental to assessing mineral resources, are affected by map scale. Where consistently defined deposits of a particular type are estimated, spatial and frequency distributions of deposits are linked in that some frequency distributions can be generated by processes randomly in space whereas others are generated by processes suggesting clustering in space. Possible spatial distributions of mineral deposits and their related frequency distributions are affected by map scale and associated inclusions of non-permissive or covered geological settings. More generalized map scales are more likely to cause inclusion of geologic settings that are not really permissive for the deposit type, or that include unreported cover over permissive areas, resulting in the appearance of deposit clustering. Thus, overly generalized map scales can cause deposits to appear clustered. We propose a model that captures the effects of map scale and the related inclusion of non-permissive geologic settings on numbers of deposits estimates, the zero-inflated Poisson distribution. Effects of map scale as represented by the zero-inflated Poisson distribution suggest that the appearance of deposit clustering should diminish as mapping becomes more detailed because the number of inflated zeros would decrease with more detailed maps. Based on observed worldwide relationships between map scale and areas permissive for deposit types, mapping at a scale with twice the detail should cut permissive area size of a porphyry copper tract to 29% and a volcanic-hosted massive sulfide tract to 50% of their original sizes. Thus some direct benefits of mapping an area at a more detailed scale are indicated by significant reductions in areas permissive for deposit types, increased deposit density and, as a consequence, reduced uncertainty in the estimate of number of undiscovered deposits. Exploration enterprises benefit from reduced areas requiring detailed and expensive exploration, and land-use planners benefit from reduced areas of concern. ?? 2008 International Association for Mathematical Geology.

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Map scale effects on estimating the number of undiscovered mineral deposits
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Natural Resources Research
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