One objective of the International Falls and Roseau, Minnesota, CUSMAP projects was to develop a means of conducting regional-scale geochemical surveys in areas where bedrock is buried beneath complex glacially derived overburden. Partial analysis of B-horizon soils offered hope for detecting subtle hydromorphic trace-element dispersion patterns. An enzyme-based partial leach selectively removes metals from oxide coatings on the surfaces of soil materials without attacking their matrix. Most trace-element concentrations in the resulting solutions are in the part-per-trillion to low part-per-billion range, necessitating determinations by inductively coupled plasma/mass spectrometry. The resulting data show greater contrasts for many trace elements than with other techniques tested. Spatially, many trace metal anomalies are locally discontinuous, but anomalous trends within larger areas are apparent. In many instances, the source for an anomaly seems to be either basal till or bedrock. Ground water flow is probably the most important mechanism for transporting metals toward the surface, although ionic diffusion, electrochemical gradients, and capillary action may play a role in anomaly dispersal. Sample sites near the Rainy Lake-Seine River fault zone, a regional shear zone, often have anomalous concentrations of a variety of metals, commonly including Zn and/or one or more metals which substitute for Zn in sphalerite (Cd, Ge, Ga, and Sn). Shifts in background concentrations of Bi, Sb, and As show a trend across the area indicating a possible regional zoning of lode-Au mineralization. Soil anomalies of Ag, Co, and Tl parallel basement structures, suggesting areas that may have potential for Cobalt/Thunder Baytype silver viens. An area around Baudette, Minnesota, which is underlain by quartz-chlorite-carbonate-altered shear zones, is anomalous in Ag, As, Bi, Co, Mo, Te, Tl, and W. Anomalies of Ag, As, Bi, Te, and W tend to follow the fault zones, suggesting potential for lode-Au deposits. Soil anomalies of Co, Mo, and Tl appear to follow northwest-striking structures that cross the shear zones, suggesting that Thunder Bay-type mineralization may have overprinted earlier mineralization along the shear zones.
Additional publication details
Enzyme leaching of surficial geochemical samples for detecting hydromorphic trace-element anomalies associated with precious-metal mineralized bedrock buried beneath glacial overburden in northern Minnesota