Termite exploration leads to gold discovery
HERE be gold in them there hills!
That is what CSIRO entomologist Dr Aaron Stewart found when inspecting termite mounds dotting a test site amongst Western Australia's goldfields.
Now termites and ants could be the key to finding gold and mineral deposits.
Dr Stewart said the insects could provide an environmentally friendlier option for mineral explorers who currently rely on drilling deep wells to establish a resources seam.
The insects can dig through higher underground layers, which can hide these seams, returning to the surface with traces of the material for their mounds.
"The insects bring up small particles that contain gold from the deposit's fingerprint, or halo, and effectively stockpile it in their mounds," Dr Stewart said.
"Our recent research has shown that small ant and termite mounds that may not look like much on the surface, are just as valuable in finding gold as the large African mounds are that stand several metres tall."