The significance of termites on the future of kimberlite exploration in Botswana
The majority of the diamond mines in Botswana were discovered as a direct consequence of soil sampling for indicator minerals such as garnet and picroilmenite. Over the past 60 years the application of soil sampling for indicator minerals as a primary exploration tool has declined while aeromagnetic surveys have increased in popularity. The rate of kimberlite discovery in Botswana has declined significantly. The obvious magnetic kimberlites have been discovered. The future of new kimberlite discoveries is once again dependent on soil sampling for kimberlite indicator minerals. It is essential to have an in depth understanding of the transport mechanism of kimberlite indicator minerals from the kimberlite to the modern day surface of the Kalahari Formation, which is solely via termite bioturbation. Field observations indicate that the concentration of indicator minerals at surface is directly dependent on the physical characteristics and capabilities as well as behavioural patterns of the particular termite species dominant in the exploration area. The discovery of future diamond mines in Botswana will be closely associated with an in depth understanding of the relationship between size and concentration of kimberlite indicator minerals in surface soils and the seasonal behaviour, depth penetration capabilities, earthmoving efficiencies and mandible size of the dominant termite species within the exploration area. Large areas in Botswana, where kimberlite indicator minerals recovered from soil samples have been described as distal from source or background, will require re-evaluation. Without detailed termite studies the rate of discovery will continue to decline.
KeywordsTermites Kimberlite Exploration Botswana
The authors wish to thank Pangolin Diamonds Corp of Canada for access to exploration data and permission to publish. Manfred Marx, an anonymous reviewer and journal editor Lutz Nasdala are thanked for their constructive comments to improve this manuscript.
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