Clays from the fracture surface were then analysed. There was no gold visible, but analysis showed the clays contained up to 59 parts-per-million of gold. The research team concluded that the nanoparticles of gold they had imaged represented the ‘invisible’ gold in the clay, and that this nanosized gold was common in similar environments.
“The gold nanoparticles have not been identified earlier because they are transparent to electron beams and effectively invisible,” Dr Hough says. “However, they are probably a common form of gold in this type of natural environment worldwide, where saline water interacts with gold deposits. They also provide the first direct observation of the nanoscale mobility of gold during weathering.”
With gold fetching around (AU) $950 an ounce and expected to rise, this research is good news for Australia’s gold explorers.
CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships to provide science-based solutions in response to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. The nine Flagships form multidisciplinary teams with industry and the research community to deliver impact and benefits for Australia. National Research Flagships
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