Geochemical responses in peat groundwater over Attawapiskat kimberlites, James Bay Lowlands, Canada and their application to diamond exploration
ABSTRACT Peat groundwater compositions at depths of 0.4 and 1.1 m below ground surface in the Attawapiskat region of the James Bay Lowlands are evaluated for diamond exploration applications. Samples were collected along transects that typically extended at least 200 m beyond the margins of Yankee, Zulu, and Golf kimberlites. Locations of upwelling groundwater usually occur at or near kimberlite margins based on hydrogeological measurements and variations in peat groundwater geochemical parameters (pH and EC are high, and the Eh is low relative to ombrotrophic peat groundwaters). Concentrations of the kimberlite pathfinder metals Ni, Cr, light rare earth elements (LREEs), Ba, Mg/Ca, and alkalis are commonly elevated at sample sites at or near kimberlite margins and where groundwaters are upwelling. The presence of elevated kimberlite pathfinders at these sites suggests that fractures along the boundaries between kimberlites and limestone formed during kimberlite emplacement provide dilation for upward movement of groundwater with elevated kimberlite pathfinder metals. Typically, Ni, Cr, LREE, and Ba behave similarly and thus high concentrations of these metals are found at similar locations along transects. On the other hand, locations of elevated alkalis and Mg/Ca vary. The spatial variations among pathfinder metals in peat groundwaters are possibly due to geochemical processes in the peat, such as metal binding to dissolved organic material, adsorption to insoluble organics or Fe-oxyhydroxides, and incorporation into secondary mineral precipitates, which can act to increase or decrease metal solubility. The findings of this study are readily applicable in diamond exploration in wetlands elsewhere.