Leveraging Existing Groundwater Chemistry Data
Agricultural and municipal expansion has steadily increased the demand upon Nevada’s groundwater. With tens of thousands of wells across the State, water management agencies collect large quantities of water quality data. The data are essentially free; however, they are not easily accessible or readily usable. Furthermore, the data are widely-scattered across the State in mostly hard copy, non-digital formats.
NGE has invested considerable resources to locate, copy, collate, organize, integrate, digitize, and spatially reference publically available datasets to create Nevada’s largest groundwater chemistry database. From 2000 to 2003, NGE’s founders retrieved over 40,000 historic groundwater chemistry analyses from 28 Federal, State and private agencies. As they informed each agency of their objective, NGE’s founders carefully noted that they were the first representatives of any industry to tackle the challenging process of bringing the diverse datasets together. NGE’s resulting proprietary groundwater chemistry database is one-of-a-kind, and NGE enjoys a significant lead over any potential competition that attempts to create the same.
While the historical records do not contain analyses for gold, they do contain analyses for many important trace elements associated with gold, often referred to as “indicator elements”. NGE’s founders combined the groundwater chemistry database with a comprehensive geologic dataset to examine the groundwater chemistry around Nevada’s known gold mines and to test the exploration premise that gold deposits create distinct, recognizable groundwater chemistry. The combined dataset clearly shows that the groundwater around Nevada’s gold mines contain high concentrations of the indicator elements that were important for the associated discoveries: Antimony, Arsenic, Copper, Lead, Zinc, etc.
Antimony in groundwater in northern Kelly Creek valley, home to Newmont’s Twin Creeks Gold Mine (+20MMoz). Note the elevated antimony concentrations in the groundwater adjacent to the gold mineralization. (Scale: approximately 10km grid [6mi])
Another example: arsenic in groundwater along the Carlin Trend. Note the elevated arsenic concentrations in the groundwater surrounding the large gold mines. (Scale: approximately 10km grid [6mi])
By compiling and leveraging existing public datasets, NGE’s founders demonstrated that