A study to test the use of hydrogeochemical methods for gold prospecting was carried out in the Osilo area, northern Sardinia. The study area, covering about 30 km2 is characterised by Tertiary andesitic rocks. Gold concentrations up to several ppm, associated with abundant pyrite, arsenopyrite, stibnite, tetrahedrite and electrum, and subordinate galena, sphalerite and chalcopyrite, are present in quartz veins associated with a polyphase, incipient and pervasive alteration of the andesitic rocks.\ud \ud Forty-eight water samples (17 streams, 29 springs and 2 boreholes) were analysed for Au and a wide range of major and trace elements, both in solution (< 0.4 μm) and in suspension. Background values for dissolved Au were below the detection limit of the methods used (between 0.3 and 0.5 ng L−1 Au). Gold concentrations in solution up to 3 ng L−1 were found in waters draining the mineralised vein system. The observed dispersion of Au in surface waters was restricted to about 500 m from the auriferous veins. Dissolved Au anomalies do not vary significantly in water samples, taken monthly over a one year period, suggesting that the dispersion of Au is unaffected by seasonal conditions in the Osilo area. For samples where Au was detected both in solution and in suspension, the Au content of the suspended matter was usually lower than that in solution.\ud \ud The best indicators of Au mineralisation, apart from Au itself, both in solution and in suspension, were As and Sb which showed a dispersion clearly related to the known auriferous veins.\ud \u
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