Till geochemical and indicator mineral methods in mineral exploration

M. B. McClenaghan, L. H. Thorleifson, R. N.W. Dilabio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


This paper summarizes advances since 1987 in the application of glacial sediment sampling to mineral exploration (drift prospecting) in areas affected by continental or alpine glaciation. In these exploration programs, clastic glacial sediments are tested by geochemical or mineralogical methods to detect dispersal trains of mineral deposit indicators that have been glacially transported from source by mechanical processes. In glaciated terrain the key sampling medium, till, is produced by abrasion, crushing and blending of rock debris and recycled sediment followed by down-ice dispersal ranging from a few metres to many kilometres. As a consequence of the mid-1980s boom in gold exploration, the majority of case studies and regional till geochemical surveys published in the past decade deal with this commodity. Approximately 30% of Canada and virtually all of Fennoscandia have been covered by regional till geochemical surveys that aid mineral exploration and provide baseline data for environmental, agricultural, and landuse planning. The most profound event in drift prospecting in the last decade, however, has been the early-1990s explosion in diamond exploration which has dramatically increased the profile of glacial geology and glacial sediment sampling and stimulated changes in sampling and analytical methods. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-166
Number of pages22
JournalOre Geology Reviews
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 2000


  • Canada
  • Clastic glacial sediments
  • Diamonds
  • Drift prospecting
  • Fennoscandia
  • Finland
  • Geochemical surveys
  • Glaciated terrain
  • Gold
  • Indicator minerals
  • Kimberlites
  • Mechanical dispersal
  • Mineral exploration
  • Till


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