It is now possible to map elemental distribution in geological samples in the field, using the SciAps Z-300 handheld laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) analyser, available from Gammatec.
LIBS is a form of atomic emission spectroscopy (AES) that can produce a comprehensive spectral dataset allowing all elements between 200 nm to 900 nm to be represented. 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. LIBS offers complementary and unique capabilities to enhance conventional field geochemical investigations and presents exciting new opportunities related to mineral chemistry and element mapping.
Using the Z-300 with GeoChem Pro App, element maps can easily be generated in less than one minute. This powerful and spatially precise analytical technique is ideally suited to the analysis of specific minerals and areas of interest on drill core, rock chips or hand specimens. SciAps handheld LIBS analysers can be used to understand the distribution of elements with a high degree of spatial precision using a 50 um laser and in-built X-Y stage for rastering. Element maps can be generated showing the distribution of different elements and individual points within a sample can be understood in context.
SciAps Profile Builder PC software can be used to select individual spectra from within the element maps to be processed using matrix-specific calibrations for quantification or exported for analysis using multivariate statistical methods for mineral identification and classification.
In the case of gold exploration and mining, not only is the positive identification of the presence or absence of gold now achievable, but information about where the gold is located, its associated geochemical signal and the minerals with which its distribution is associated can be understood by geologists in the field.