Research Projects - Integration of Geological, Geochemical and Remote Sensing Data for Finding Source Rocks for Gold in the Northern Areas of Pakistan
The occurrence of placer gold in the northern Pakistan has been well known for many decades, but the source bedrocks and the processes involved in the formation of gold in these areas is still uncertain. Gold washing has been a practice for a long period along the Indus and Gilgit Rivers in northern areas of Pakistan. These gold washers use primitive tools for extraction of gold from the Indus sands. Therefore, in spite of working hard throughout the year, their income is less than $100 per year. They use panning and mercury for the extraction of coarse gold while fine, ultra-fine and invisible gold is thrown into the river along with other residual material containing high amount of mercury and other heavy metals. It is causing pollution in rivers and maybe in groundwater.
In order to make an effective exploration strategy for gold mineralization in northern areas of Pakistan, two things are needed. First, the gold source rocks need to be identified and mapped. Second, techniques for pinpointing gold anomalies using space-borne remote sensing data need to be developed and tested. This project promises to make significant advances in these related directions. Collaboration between University of Houston (UH) and National Center for Excellence in Geology, University of Peshawar will accomplish this by integrating existing geological and geochemical data with space-borne remote sensing and spectroscopy data to identify source rocks for gold deposits in northern areas of Pakistan. This project also offers numerous opportunities for to train Pakistani scientists in remote sensing and geochemistry and to improve geochemical facilities in the University of Peshawar. Finally a training workshop will be conducted in northern areas of Pakistan to educate local people on good practices for gold panning.
Figure 1: Landsat Geocvoer 2000 image with location of the study area. White dots are sites of stream sediments that were analyzed for trace elements and gold concentration. This data will be used for locating target sites for detailed remote sensing and geochemical studies in an attempt to identify potential source rocks.
Figure 2: Sulfide leaching, sites like this could be our target areas (Photo by Dr. M.T. Shah)
Figure 3: Scenic view of Ghizer Valley in the study area sediments from streams like this show gold traces. Current project will take this further and will identify the rocks from which gold is leached.