Geochemistry refers to the chemical composition of geological materials such as rocks, minerals, and water. Applied geochemistry is a powerful exploration tool used to detect abnormally high concentrations of chemical elements associated with mineral or hydrocarbon deposits.
The Geological Surveys Branch (GSB) of the Department of Energy and Resource Development oversees the Government's Geochemistry Program. The program's key objectives are to:
- compile and maintain geochemical databases using information from the GSB's metallic minerals, bedrock, and surficial mapping programs;
- help prospectors and others in the mineral industry to obtain and interpret geochemical analyses of rock and mineral samples; and
- provide geochemical information to Government and the private sector for groundwater analysis, environmental assessment, and other engineering studies.
The GSB gathers many types of geochemical data during its field mapping programs. The information plays a vital role in the evaluation of New Brunswick's mineral and hydrocarbon resources.
- Rock analyses can identify the tectonic origin of bedrock, which helps geoscientists to interpret regional geology and define mineral potential.
- Analyses of rocks collected from mineralized bedrock or float can reveal economic concentrations of metals.
- Geochemical analyses can show whether mineralizing fluids have altered rock composition. Such alteration can be associated with economic mineral deposits.
- Analyses of soil, till, and stream or lake sediments can indicate geochemical anomalies caused by mineralization in nearby bedrock.
- High carbon content of a bedrock horizon may indicate its potential as a source rock for oil or natural gas.