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Type: Thesis
Title: Termitaria as regolith landscape attributes and sampling media in northern Australia.
Author: Petts, Anna E.
Issue Date: 2009
School/Discipline: School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Abstract: This study provides one of the first accounts of the relationships between termites, termitaria and the pedolith, towards developing their application as a biogeochemical sampling medium for mineral exploration. Mapping regolith–landforms, termitaria, and the associated termitaria biogeochemistry show that termites are an integral control on the organisation of trace metals in the landscapes of northern Australia. In particular, termites are important for transporting geochemical signatures from depth, through the pedolith and to the ground surface. This occurs by way of bioturbative and constructional activities of the mound-building termites, which in this study included Nasutitermes triodiae, Amitermes vitiosus, Drepanotermes rubriceps, Tumulitermes hastilis and T. pastinator. Termitaria from these species are mappable regolith– landform attributes at the local scale; this highlights their specific preferences for colony sites, such as access to vegetation, drainage, and the availability of construction materials. The mound-building termites featured in this study are also soil modifiers, altering the pedolith terms of both structure and chemistry. Developing an understanding of these processes has helped to refine a model for pedolith development through biotic processes, which is applicable to subtropical and tropical climatic regions, where termites act as important ecosystem engineers. This research project fills a niche for new scientific investigation of deeper regolith profiles and associated terrains; it moves away from theories of shallow soil development overlying an abiotic deep regolith, towards understanding pedolith development as wholly biotically driven. For mineral explorers this means that ore-related elements, such as Au, As and Zn, are re-organised and moved towards the land surface in settings such as buried Au-deposits and mineralisation in the Tanami region, and Pine Creek Orogen. A key finding within the study of the application of this technique is that the fine, silt-clay (>79 μm) from termitaria is capable of accurately delineating the surficial expression of buried Au mineralisation. Termitaria can therefore provide an accessible surficial biogeochemical sampling media that can be used in mineral exploration programs
Advisor: Hill, Steven John
Worrall, Lisa
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) - University of Adelaide, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, 2009
Subject: Mining geology Australia, Northern
Termites Australia, Northern.
Keywords: Termites; Mineral exploration; Regolith science; Regolith landform mapping; Tanami; Northern Australia
Provenance: Copyright material removed from digital thesis. See print copy in University of Adelaide Library for full text.
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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01front.pdf143.94 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
02chapters1-3.pdf3.74 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
03chapter4PartA.pdf2.33 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
04chapter4PartB.pdf2.46 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
05chapters5-ref.pdf1.86 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
06appendix.pdf1.95 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

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