A glass of wine can help find new mineral deposits

Sep 13, 2007
Dr Ryan Noble of CSIRO at work
Dr Ryan Noble of CSIRO at work

The key to finding new mineral deposits in Australia could be to start looking with a glass of wine or a soft drink.

In a fascinating piece of spare-time research, CSIRO Exploration & Mining scientist Dr Ryan Noble has found that chemical ingredients in these drinks, including weak organic acids, have the ability to dissolve weakly-bound metals into solution.

“When you mix the drinks with soil, acids dissolve some of the metals into solution, which can then easily be detected in routine laboratory analysis,” Dr Noble said.

The chemical ability of wine and soft drinks makes them very suitable for use as a cheap extraction tool that can be applied to mineral exploration.

“They are particularly good at discovering elevated levels of metals such as silver, zinc, copper and nickel,” Dr Noble said.

Dr Noble and his colleagues were initially a bit ‘tongue-in-cheek’ about carrying out the tests. But they were astounded by the results.

“In many cases, the comparison of metals extracted using wine and soft drink were superior than those extracted using conventional, and much more expensive, commercial solvents,” he said.

Dr Noble is currently working on a number of exploration projects with the Cooperative Research Centre for Landscape Environment and Mineral Exploration (CRC LEME) in Perth.

Results of the testing were presented at the recent 2007 CRC LEME Mineral Exploration Seminar so that the exploration industry could be made aware of and begin using this new, unconventional technique.

The scientists tested red wine and a number of popular soft drinks. The effectiveness of the technique is unlikely to be affected by whether the wine is a shiraz or a malbec and diet soft drinks are just as effective as those containing sugar.

Dr Noble would also like to reassure taxpayers that the research was conducted in the scientists’ spare time. The research had the added benefit that none of the unused scientific solutions were wasted.

Source: CSIRO

Explore further: Hurricane churns towards Bermuda, to impact US

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Airlines on alert as eruption begins in Iceland

13 hours ago

Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano burst forth with a small eruption Saturday under the ice of Europe's largest glacier, scientists said, prompting the country to close airspace over the area.

Two Galileo satellites lose their way

16 hours ago

Two European Galileo satellites launched as part of a navigation system designed to rival GPS have failed to locate their intended orbit, launch firm Arianespace said Saturday.

Volcanic eruption begins under Iceland glacier

16 hours ago

Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano began erupting Saturday under the country's largest glacier after a week of seismic activity rattled the area with thousands of earthquakes, the country's Meteorological Office ...

Recommended for you

Karina's remnants drawn into Hurricane Marie's spin

6 minutes ago

Karina finally became a remnant low pressure area after roaming around in the Eastern Pacific for two weeks. Satellite data on August 27 showed that the now shapeless former hurricane was being drawn into ...

NASA image: Veld Fires in South Africa

7 minutes ago

South Africa is entering what is described by the Volunteer Wildfire Services of South Africa as "Cape Fire Season." The Eastern Cape provincial government warned residents in certain parts of the province ...

Sentinel-1 poised to monitor motion

26 minutes ago

Although it was only launched a few months ago and is still being commissioned, the new Sentinel-1A radar satellite has already shown that it can be used to generate 3D models of Earth's surface and will ...

Climate impacts of changing aerosol emissions since 1996

3 hours ago

The re-distribution of anthropogenic aerosol emissions from Europe and North America towards China and India between 1996 and 2010 has surprisingly warmed rather than cooled the global climate. This result reinforces the ...

User comments : 0