Electrogeochemical extraction methods are based on the migration of ions in an electric field. Ions present in soil moisture are transported by an applied current into fluids contained in special electrodes placed on the soil. The fluids are then collected and analyzed. Extractions are governed by Faraday's and Ohm's laws and are modeled by the operation of a simple Hittord transference apparatus. Calculations show that the volume of soil sampled in an ideal electrogeochemical extraction can be orders of magnitude greater than the volumes used in more popular geochemical extraction methods, although this has not been verified experimentally. CHIM is a method of in-situ electrogeochemical extraction that was developed in the former Soviet Union and has been tested and applied internationally to exploration for buried mineral deposits. Tests carried out at the US Geological Survey (USGS) indicated that there were problems inherent in the use of CHIM technology. The cause of the problems was determined to be the diffusion of acid from the conventional electrode into the soil. The NEOCHIM electrode incorporates two compartments and a salt bridge in a design that inhibits diffusion of acid and enables the collection of anions or cations. Tests over a gold-enriched vein in Colorado and over buried, Carlin-type, disseminated gold deposits in northern Nevada show that there are similarities and differences between NEOCHIM results and those by partial extractions of soils which include simple extractions with water, dilute acids and solutions of salts used as collector fluids in the electrodes. Results of both differ from the results obtained by total chemical digestion. The results indicate that NEOCHIM responds to mineralized faults associated with disseminated gold deposits whereas partial and total chemical extraction methods do not. This suggests that faults are favored channels for the upward migration of metals and that NEOCHIM may be more effective in exploration for the deposits. It defines anomalies that are often narrow and intense, an observation previously made by CHIM researchers. The field tests show that NEOCHIM is less affected by surface contamination. A test over the Mike disseminated gold deposit indicates that the method may not be effective for locating deposits with impermeable cover. Faradaic extraction efficiencies of 20-30%, or more, are frequently achieved with NEOCHIM and the method generally shows good reproducibility, especially in extraction of major cations. However, ions of other metals that are useful in exploration, including Au and As, may be collected in low and temporally variable concentrations. The reason for this variability is unclear and requires further investigation.CHIM is a method of in-situ electrogeochemical extraction developed for the exploration of buried mineral deposits. However, electrode problems like diffusion of acid into the soil were encountered during the use of CHIM. The NEOCHIM electrode was developed to inhibit the diffusion of acid and enable collection of anions or cations. Tests over buried gold deposits showed that NEOCHIM responds to mineralized faults associated with disseminated gold deposits whereas partial and total chemical extraction methods do not. This suggests that faults are favored channels for the upward migration of metals and NEOCHIM may be effective in exploration for the deposits. But ions of metals may be collected in low and variable concentration.
Additional publication details
Electrogeochemical sampling with NEOCHIM - results of tests over buried gold deposits