A Tempest® airborne fixed-wing time-domain electromagnetic and magnetic survey was flown over the Nuqrah – Mardah area of central Saudi Arabia. The aim of the Tempest® survey was to enhance the geological knowledge within the area, to provide a regional geological map derived from the airborne data, and to explore for discrete conductive targets that may indicate base metal deposits.
The survey area is wholly contained in the Hulayfah Group, found in the northwestern part of the Afif composite terrane in the Arabian Shield. Several known mineral targets exist in the survey area, including the Nuqrah deposit which was precipitated out of volcanogenic fluids in a failed island-arc setting. The Nuqrah massive sulphide SEDEX deposit is copper-rich and massive in nature. The mineralization occurs in discrete north and south zones, 4 km apart, each marked by a gossan.
The high quality of the tempest data is confirmed by close corroboration with borehole pyrite assay data."
The regional structure is evident in the Tempest® data at early times with the mineralized zones remaining prominent at later times. The data were interpreted in conjunction with high quality magnetic data (acquired simultaneously), regional geology and geophysics, and an enhanced litho-structural interpretation was produced to aid further exploration.
The Nuqrah North and Nuqrah South deposits are clearly visible in the late time EM data, as discrete anomalies. Further drilling is suggested at Nuqrah North based on a strike length interpreted from CDI profiles of 1.4 km, while at Nuqrah South the Tempest® data aligns closely with borehole pyrite assays, and extends known mineralisation. The borehole data corroborates the Tempest® data, imaging a well-defined, west-dipping planar feature. The Tempest® data extends the mineralized feature further west.
A Tempest® survey of the Nuqrah – Mardah area of central Saudi Arabia successfully mapped the regional structure and stratigraphy, enhanced the geological knowledge of the area, identified known mineral occurrences, and located several new mineral targets.
The ability of Tempest® to directly detect targets is well illustrated by the successful imaging of the north and south zones and associated structures of the Nuqrah deposit to a depth approximately 400 m below surface. The high quality of the Tempest® data is confirmed by close corroboration with borehole pyrite assay data.
Thanks to Maaden Gold and Base Metals for their insight into the geology of Saudi Arabia, and permission to publish this work
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