Thesis (M.S., Geology)--University of Idaho, June 2014 | The presence of ammonium-illite on the Earth's surface has been correlated to known deposits via structures at Carlin-type gold deposits, suggesting its importance as a vector for gold ore. Additionally, ammonium-illite has often been proposed as a geochemical exploration tool due to its formation in hydrothermal systems. Very little work has focused on ammonium-illite as an exploration tool due to the costly, time-consuming, and often inaccurate methods of ammonium detection, such as wet chemical methods or X-Ray Diffraction. Short-wave infrared reflectance spectroscopy has the ability to detect even trace amounts of ammonium quickly and effectively.
Two hyperspectral surveys were performed in Elko County, Nevada, USA. The hyperspectral images were processed to identify several clay anomalies, including ammonium-illite, on a regional exploration scale, while field trothing of an existing claim block showed a spatial relationship between ammonium-illite and gold soil anomalies.