Modern prospecting is the systematic search for specified and generally ill-exposed components of the Earth's crust known as ore. This prospecting depends entirely on reliable, or scientific knowledge for guidance and for recognition of the search objects. Improvement in prospecting results from additions and refinements to scientific knowledge. Scientific knowledge is an ordered distillation of observations too numerous and too complex in themselves for easy understanding and for effective management. The ordering of these observations is accomplished by an evolutionary hierarchy of abstractions. These abstractions employ simplified descriptions consisting of characterization by selected properties, sampling to represent much larger parts of a phenomenon, generalized mappings of patterns of geometrical and numerical relations among properties, and explanation (theory) of these patterns as functional relations among the selected properties. Each abstraction is predicated on the mode of abstraction anticipated for the next higher level, so that research is a deductive process in which the highest level, theory, is indispensible for the growth and refinement of scientific knowledge, and therefore of prospecting methodology. ?? 1985 Springer-Verlag.