Tin and related elements in sediments and beach sands from Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey

Open-File Report 79-1188
By: , and 



Sixty samples of sediments from stream beds, outwash plains, and beaches were collected in Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey by Fred L. Klinger,
U.S. Bureau of Mines, as part of the field work undertaken by the National Geographic-Smithsonian Pyrotechnological Expedition of 1968. Facilities for the analysis of the samples for tin and other metals were not immediately available, but in 1973 arrangements were made for analyses to be made on a time-permitting basis in the U.S. Geological Survey. The original purpose in collecting the samples was to determine whether tin was present in amounts indicative of sources for tin ores used in antiquity for the manufacture of bronze. The results of the analyses not only permitted an evaluation of the potential for tin in the localities sampled, but also afforded chemical and mineralogical data that were interpretable in the context of regional potential for other elements of current industrial use. These include gold, base metals, ferro-alloy metals, beryllium, rare earths, and barium.

The original 60 samples of sand were sieved to make three size fraction (>0.707 mm, <O.707->O.177 mm, and <0.177 mm) for spectrographic and chemical analysis. Splits of these fractions were used for replicate analyses to permit evaluation of the precision of the analytical procedures. Further splitting of the <0.707->0.177 mm sand gave fractions from each sample that were separated in bromoform. Concentrates from the heavy-liquid separations were divided magnetically into six parts from most magnetic to least magnetic. These concentrates were analyzed spectrographically.

The precision of the spectrographic analyses is well within the limits of precision expected from semiquantitative procedures. Such precision allows semiquantitative spectrographic procedures to be used with confidence as a valuable tool for reconnaissance investigations in which multi-element analyses are necessary.

The analyses of the various fractions of sediments and sediment concentrates indicate the sample media in which an element was most likely to occur. Tin exhibited no preferential concentration into any particular medium. However, many elements with which tin is associated, and other elements of industrial use, do concentrate into one or more of the sample media. This indication of a preferred medium permits interpretation of the analyses as to the best sample medium for a particular element in the environment of western Asia.

Cassiterite and/or tin were detected in many samples from Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey, but in most of the samples the tin was present in normal crustal abundance. Sixteen samples, including seven from Afghanistan, eight from Iran, and one from Turkey contain unusually large amounts of tin. The most notable areas of anomalous tin are near Mirzaka, Qala-i-Asad, and Shah Agha in Afghanistan; near Meshed, Shir Kuh, Natanz, Nodus, and Talmesi in Iran; and on the shore of the Balck Sea just west of Trabzon in Turkey. Even in these localities the tin appears to be a minor element associated with other ores. The most common association of tin is with copper at known mineralized areas. This relation may have historical significance in the context of the development of bronze.

The results of the analyses provided geochemical data on the distribution of other elements of industrial use and clearly identified nine of the ten known mineral deposits represented by the samples. The known metallization at the reported deposits may be only a part of more complex groups of metals.

In Afghanistan an array of anomalous elements at the known gold placers around Mirzaka and along the Anguri River signals the presence of complex ore deposits. These elements are silver, arsenic, gold, bismuth, cadmium, copper, mercury, indium, molybdenum, lead, antimony, tin, thallium, tungsten, and zinc. They may indicate a Carlin-type gold deposit in which the wall-rocks are enriched in micron-sized particles of gold. Other localities in Afghanistan signalled by the results of the analyses to be anomalous and to merit further geochemical exploration are: (1) a reach of the Panjshir River for beryllium, lead, zinc, chromium and nickel; (2) the area near Bamian for beryllium; (3) the Siakhak village area for gold and copper; (4) around Qala-i-Asad and Shah Agha for lead, zinc, gold, and tungsten. Some attention to the distribution of monazite around Siakhak, Shahjui, Qala-i-Asad, and Shah Agha is justified to determine if this ore mineral for the rare earths and thorium is enriched over its normally expectable trace as an accessory mineral in granitic rocks, pelitic schists, and gneisses.

In Iran, the pluton of granodiorite porphyry near Sar Cheshmeh, an area where a huge porphyry copper deposit was being investigated by the Geological Survey of Iran when the present samples were collected in 1968, shows as a strong geochemical anomaly for copper and molybdenum.

The granitic area near Meshed is geochemically enriched persistently in beryllium, tin, and barium, and locally in gold, lanthanum, niobium, yttrium, and other elements. This area deserves a thorough regional geochemical survey for beryl and nonberyl sources of beryllium, for fluorite, and for the ores of niobium, tin, barium, the rare earths, and thorium. Other localities in Iran that merit geochemical exploration on the basis of these data are: ;1) the areas between Tabas and Deyhuk, east of Naiband, and south of Naiband for barium and zinc; (2) a locality about midway between Kerman and Sirdjan for barium, lanthanum, strontium, and zinc; (4) the Meskani copper mine area for mercury, lead, and nickel as well as copper; (5) the Talmesi copper mine area for such other elements as barium, cobalt, mercury, strontium, and zinc; (6) a small pluton of granodiorite north of Natanz for tungsten and base metals; (7) the vicinity of Zendjan for auriferous polymetallic sufide deposits; (8) gold in the gorge 15 km east of Miyaneh; and (9) the area near Nodus for gold, base metals, molybdenum, and niobium, and possibly uranium.

The Harsit River basin in Turkey appears to be a suitable target for geochemical exploration for gold and low-temperature hydrothermal deposits of base metals, barium, and mercury.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Tin and related elements in sediments and beach sands from Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 79-1188
DOI 10.3133/ofr791188
Year Published 1978
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Description vii, 267 p.
Country Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey
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