Biological Indicators of Natural Ore-Bodies: Geobotanical and Biogeochemical Prospecting for Heavy Metal Deposits

  • M. H. Martin
  • P. J. Coughtrey
Part of the Pollution Monitoring Series book series (PMS)


The use of plants as guides to areas worth exploiting for their base-metal deposits has developed into two clearly defined methods known as ‘geobotanical prospecting’and ‘biogeochemical prospecting’. Geobotanical surveys rely on the recognition that certain species of plants are always, or almost always, associated with substrates enriched with certain metals. The distribution of such species is so restricted that mere presence provides a reliable indication of the occurrence of abnormally high concentrations of heavy metals in the soil and in many cases the underlying rocks. In addition, some widespread species show characteristic physiological and morphological changes when grown in the presence of heavy metals; thus mapping the distribution of plants (of that species) with anomalous appearance can also indicate potential mineral deposits. Plant indicators, as used in Geobotanical prospecting, are plant species, or smaller intraspecific entities or taxa, or their natural assemblages (plant communities) which show a sufficiently constant association with substrates enriched in heavy metals, such that the occurrence of heavy metals can be deduced merely from the presence of those species or communities (e.g. Chikishev, 1965).


Heavy Metal Heavy Metal Pollution Indicator Species Biological Indicator Biological Monitoring 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Applied Science Publishers Ltd 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. H. Martin
    • 1
  • P. J. Coughtrey
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of BristolClifton, BristolUK
  2. 2.Associated Nuclear ServicesEpsom, SurreyUK

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