Identification of Gold and Its Mineralogical Associations Using the SciAps Z-300 Handheld LIBS

  • While handheld and portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) analysers can be used effectively to measure many pathfinder and major elements in the field, the limitations of pXRF with regard to the analysis of gold are well documented. Using pXRF detection limits of 1-2 ppm may now be possible, but common interferences from many associated elements such as As, W and Zn generally mean actual detection limits are much higher. The often highly inhomogeneous distribution of gold within geological samples also presents challenges in obtaining an average composite value using a handheld analyser that measures a small area and is essentially a surface measurement.

    It is now possible to map elemental distribution in geological samples in the field using the SciAps Z-300 handheld LIBS analyser. Laser induced breakdown spectroscopy, or LIBS, is a form of Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (AES) that can produce a comprehensive spectral dataset allowing all elements to be represented between 200-900 nm. LIBS offers complementary and unique capabilities to enhance conventional field geochemical investigations and presents exciting new opportunities related to mineral chemistry and element mapping. The use of microanalytical techniques to better understand mineralisation has become more widespread as laboratory equipment capable of the discrete geochemical analysis of geological samples has evolved.