Viburnum Trend Field Trip, 2011


NMT Society of Economic Geologists Student Chapter organized a field course to visit the Viburnum Trend in Missouri, under the direction of Dr. William X. Chavez, Jr. taking place from 10th to 14th April, 2011. Viburnum Trend hosts world-class examples of MVT deposits, and our series of visits were led by the mine geologist or metallurgist at each mine or mill. This field course was a great opportunity for student members to make industry contacts as well as to participate in their daily tasks of mine and exploration geologists. Our Student Chapter received financial assistance from the Doe Run Company, the Society of Economic Geologists, and New Mexico Tech.

Day 1, Sunday, April 10, 2011: Meet the Doe Run Exploration team

The tour began with an overview of the Viburnum Trend in the Geology Department by Tom Schott, lead Exploration Geologist for the Doe Run Company in Viburnum. Tom discussed the regional and local geology of the Viburnum Trend region, existing mining operations, and current exploration targets.

During Tom’s presentation he introduced the following concepts we saw in the field later in the week: different types of mineralization characteristic of the Viburnum Trend - breccia and stratiform (blanket), dolomitization, exploration techniques, and the formation of stratiform ore bodies. We reviewed the different alteration assemblages present within the district and the metal zonation that varies laterally as well as horizontally. 

Above Photo: Waiting for our turn to enter the underground Fletcher mine. James Adu (NMT student), Chris Hogan, (Fletcher Mine Geologist), Maureen Moore-Roth (NMT student), & Francis Dick (NMT student).

 Day 2, Monday, April 11, 2011

After having a tailgate safety meeting we shadowed the Fletcher mine geologist, Chris Hogan, for the day to assist him in his daily assignments at the mine. Chris introduced their ore grading techniques that are used daily by the ore control geologist to quantifiy the amount of mineralization and classify the different ore types. After demonstrating their techniques, Chris allowed us to assess the grade of the newly blasted faces. We were able individually grade three different faces and to compare our results to Mr. Hogan’s. The afternoon was spent in the core shed reviewing drill core for their current exploration project and comparing it to the mineralogy we saw underground. 

Top photo: Freshly exposed galena and sphalerite in the hostrock dolomitized carbonate. Bottom photo: Francis Dick (NMT student) assessing Pb and Zn grades in faces at the Fletcher mine. 

Day 3, Tuesday, April 12, 2011

After our safety brief under the direction of Tom Schott and Chris Hogan, we toured the Fletcher Mill in the morning where the workers demonstrated how different ore types are blended to ensure optimal recovery, walking us through every step of the process. Later, at the Buick Resources Recycling Division, we learned how they transformed a secondary smelter into the largest battery-recycling center, in the United States, producing 180,000 tpy of recycled Pb; this compares to 160,000 tpy Pb produced from primary ores at Doe Run’s Herculaneum Smelter.

The team also took us to their exploration targets to illustrate the difficulties they face during their exploration process in an area with very little surface expression of the MVT deposit, below, and they shared some of the current techniques used to identify additional resources. 

Photo above: James Adu (NMT student), Maureen Moore-Roth (NMT student), Francis Dick (NMT student), Tom Schott (Doe Run Exploration Geologist), and other Doe Run co-workers. 

Photo above: Dr William X. Chavez, Jr. (left) and his former student Tom Schott, who is currently working with the Doe Run Exploration group

Photo Above: James Adu (NMT Student) outside the Buick Resources Recycling Division, battery recycling center

Photo above: Tom Schott (Doe Run), James Adu (NMT student), Maureen Moore-Roth (NMT student), Francis Dick (NMT), Chris Hogan (Doe Run), & Dr. William X. Chavez, Jr. outside the Buick Battery Recycling Center 

Day 4, Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Under the direction of Glen Adams, our group toured the Buick and Casteel mines. Glen allowed us to assess the metal grade of newly-exposed faces using the same techniques that Chris Hogan had demonstrated earlier, and demonstrated some issues that they encounter on a daily basis. In the afternoon Chris gave us a tour of the current exploration drill sites in the area.

Summary of Key Learnings from the Field Course:

Over the four-day field course the NMT Society of Economic Geologists Student Chapter worked with the mine and exploration geologists to gain an understanding of Viburnum Trend geology, as well as the daily tasks and encounters of mine and exploration geologists. This trip was especially beneficial to James Adu & Maureen Moore-Roth because this was their first exposure to the MVT systems. Francis Atta Dick, pointed out during the trip that although he has been exposed to other MVT style deposits else where around the world, the mineralization and how it is hosted is very different. This trip also provided our student chapter a better understanding of how the Doe Run team works underground, including how they get the equipment below the surface as well as mine safety.

By the end of the course the student members learned how to assess the grade of faces using the Doe Run underground method, identify the different types of mineralization present within the ore bodies and controls on mineralization, and basic exploration techniques employed. Along with getting the chance to visit a world-class MVT deposit, the student members were able to build a personal connection with the Doe Run geological team. Our student chapter would like to acknowledge Dr. William Chavez, Jr., the Doe Run Company, Society of Economic Geologists, and New Mexico Tech for providing professional and financial support. We as a club are very fortunate to have such gracious mentors that are here to ensure our success.