Phase 4 (2009 Deadline)
Integration of Geological, Geochemical, and Remote Sensing Data for Finding
Source Rocks for Gold in the Northern Areas of Pakistan
Shuhab D. Khan, University of Houston
Mohammad Tahir Shah, University of Peshawar
Pakistani Funding (HEC): $159,914
US Funding (Department of State): $200,000
Project Dates: November 15, 2010 - November 14, 2013 (Extended through December 14, 2014)
Gold washing has long been practiced along the Indus and Gilgit Rivers in northern Pakistan. The local gold washers use only primitive tools and lack information on where the most promising sources might be found, so despite working hard throughout the year their income from gold panning is less than $100 per year. In order to produce an effective strategy for gold exploration and exploitation in northern Pakistan, the gold source rocks must first be identified and mapped and techniques for pinpointing gold anomalies using remote sensing data must be developed and tested. This collaborative project aims to build a GIS database to identify gold anomalies in northern Pakistan and train Pakistani scientists in remote sensing image processing for mapping gold-bearing zones and analyzing trace element geochemistry. To publicize their findings this team will also conduct a training workshop in northern Pakistan to educate local people on good practices for gold panning. The project should expand and enhance existing cooperative ties between the Pakistani and US researchers involved and will afford numerous opportunities for advanced training and education of US and Pakistani students and scientists, as well as wide-ranging scientific and cultural exchanges. The impact of this research on beginning researchers will be high, as four early-career female scientists from Pakistan will be directly involved in the project. The study should also help promote the development of the mineral sector in the northern areas of Pakistan. The successful identification of various types of gold-bearing zones would be of great economic importance and could generate new employment opportunities for the local population, a crucial need in this remote and impoverished area.
In first two year of the project several samples were collected from Bagrot Valley, Shigri Bala, Machulu, Ranthak and Astor valley of northern Pakistan. In total One hundred and sixty (160) thin sections from rock samples were prepared and analyzed including twenty (20) thin sections for ore petrography. All of these samples were analyzed for gold and other precious metals. Thirty five (35) host rock samples were also analyzed for major and trace elements. Contrary to previous studies that identified four (4) target sites with high gold content, this study found relatively low or negligible gold concentration in those sites. However, they found one new site with high gold and other related trace elements. With new data, the team identified several new mineralization zones that shed light on mineralization in this region. In addition the team also used geochemistry and remote sensing data for mercury contamination associated with gold mining in Hunza River basin. Study results suggested that the main source of mercury is located north of Attabad Lake. Some of these datasets are posted at project’s GIS server: http://geors.geosc.uh.edu/index.html
On June 26, 2013, University of Peshawar organized workshop on Tectono-magmatic Controls on Porphyry and Epithermal Mineralization. This workshop was arranged to train students and junior faculty members on various aspects of formation of porphyry type copper and gold deposits and epithermal mineralization. More than 60 participants attended from various organizations. Two associate professors from University of Peshawar (Dr. Tazeem Tahirkheli and Dr. Rubina Bilquees) and the Pakistani PI Dr. Shah visited the US team. Currently, three junior faculty members, eight graduate students, one undergraduate student and four technicians are directly involved in this project. Two students at the University of Peshawar are pursuing PhD research on this project. Research of three MS students at the University of Peshawar and one MS student at the University of Houston is focused on parts of this project.
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2011 Show summary || Hide summary
Dr. Shuhab Khan made his second visit to Pakistan on the project from May 31 through June 14, 2011. In addition to meeting with officials from the Metrological Survey of Pakistan to obtain hydrologic data, he and Dr. Mohammad Tahir Shah led a two-day workshop at the University of Peshawar June 2-3 on geochemical and geo-informatic tools for exploration of precious metals. The event attracted 40 participants and received coverage in the national and local media. Following the workshop, Dr. Khan and two of his graduate students, Kivanç Biber and Shams Ul-Hadi, carried out field work in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, collecting 40 mineral samples. Dr. Shah and four of his students also took part in an extensive field sampling trip, which was completed on July 22. Samples collected by both groups are currently being analyzed at their respective universities, and initial results of the research were presented at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Minneapolis (October 9-12, 2011).
2012 Show summary || Hide summary
Following up on a successful June 2011 workshop in Peshawar and field visit to the Northern Areas of Pakistan to collect mineral samples last summer, Dr. Khan presented some initial results from the project at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Minneapolis (October 9-12, 2011). A project Web page has been established at the University of Houston (http://www.uh.edu/~sdkhan/projects/gold.php), including a few photos from the field visits. During the winter and spring of 2012, the researchers in both Houston and Peshawar have focused on processing and analyzing the rock and water samples they have collected. Dr. Khan has purchased and installed all the new equipment supported under the Pakistani side of the project budget. The two principal investigators are selecting field sites for additional sample collections to be carried out when Dr. Khan visits Pakistan again June 1-25, 2012.
Please click here for a link to a press release on the project issued by the University of Houston.
During the spring and summer of 2012, the team completed spectral and geochemical analyses of the mineral and water samples they collected in 2011. From June 12-21, Drs. Khan and Shah along with three graduate students from the University of Peshawar conducted field work in the northern areas of Pakistan. They confirmed remote sensing results and made plans for future work. Additional field work near Skardu was carried out by two students from the University of Peshawar in July.
On June 19, the team organized a one-day workshop at Karakoram International University, Gilgit. The workshop attracted more than 40 attendees, including 35 students, five faculty members and two professionals. The university’s vice chancellor, deans, and other senior faculty members also took part in the workshop’s inaugural session. Following the workshop Dr. Khan traveled to Abbottabad, where he gave an invited talk on this project at the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology and met with faculty and administrators on June 21.
In the next few months, the team will focus on processing and interpreting data and continue the training of graduate students. Dr. Khan expects to host two of his Pakistani collaborators (Dr. Mohammad Tahir Shah and Dr. Tazeem Tahirkheli) and a graduate student (Mr. Laeiq Ahmad) in late November, and some preliminary results from this project will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December 2012.
2013 Show summary || Hide summary
A website with GIS server is available for sharing results of this work http://geors.geosc.uh.edu/index.html on preliminary data with more information forthcoming as data from additional samples collected previously become available. The UH group has submitted a paper for publication and a second one is in preparation. In Pakistan, three M.Phil students at the University of Peshawar are in the final stages of writing their theses. Within the coming months, a PhD student, Dr. Muhammad Shah, and two senior personnel from the University of Peshawar will visit Houston for training and discussions. Dr. Shah is still waiting for his visa.
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