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VanNostrandReinholdCompanyInc.1988
GeneralGeology
EncyclopediaofEarthScience
10.1007/038730844X_36

Geobotanicalprospecting
RobertR.Brooks

WithoutAbstract
Botanicalmethodsofprospectinginvolvetheuseofvegetationinsearchingfororedeposits.
Althoughthesemethodshavebeenusedforseveralcenturies,thereismuchconfusionabout
terminologybecausetherearetwodistinctmethodsofbotanicalprospecting.Geobotanical
methodsarevisualandrelymainlyonaninterpretationoftheplantcovertodetect
morphologicalchangesorplantassociationstypicalofcertaintypesofgeologicenvironmentsor
oforedepositswithintheseenvironments.Biogeochemicalmethods(seeBiogeochemistry),
whichhavebeenusedonlysincethe1940s,involvechemicalanalysisoftheplantcoverto
detectmineralization.
GeobotanicalmethodswerefirstusedinRomantimeswhenvegetationwasemployedinthe
searchforsubterraneanwater.LatertheRussianbotanistKarpinsky(1841)becamethefirstman
tostudythoroughlytherelationshipbetweenplantcommunitiesandtheirgeologicsubstrate.A
numberofbookshaveappearedonthesubjectofgeobotanicalprospecting(Malyuga,1964
Viktorovetal.,1964Brooks,1972,1983),andthemethodisnowestablishedasapotentialtool
inmineralprospecting.
Thetechniqueofgeobotanicalprospectingfallsintofourclassifications:
Studyofplantcommunities,
Indicatorplants,
Morphologicalandmutationalchangesinplants,
Aerialgeobotanicalsurveys.
Eachofthesetopicsisconsideredinseparatesections.

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StudyofPlantCommunities
Asmentioned,theRussianbotanistKarpinsky(1841)noticedthatspecificgeologicformations
usuallycarriedacharacteristicflorathatcouldbeusedtocharacterizethatsubstrate.Hiswork
hasnowbeenhighlyperfected,particularlyintheUSSR,wherethistechniqueisknownas
indicatorgeobotany.Karpinskyhadnotedthatintheinterpretationofthegeologyofanarea,
attentionshouldbepaidtothewholecommunityratherthananindividualspecieswithinit.

CharacteristicFloras
TheecologyofplantcommunitiesisgreatlyinfluencedbythepHofthesoilandbythe
presence,excess,ordeficiencyofmineralnutrients.Althoughalmostanytypeofgeologic
formationprobablyhasitsowncharacteristicflora,onlyinthemoreextremecasesisachange
ofvegetationimmediatelyobvioustoacursoryinspection.
Calciphilous(limestone)florascomprisecalciphilous(limeloving)aswellascalcicolous(lime
requiring)species.Limestonesoilsareusuallywelldrainedandwellaeratedand,hence,
becauseofthisbeneficialconditioning,cansupportarichandvariedflorathatthoughoften
stunted,usuallycontrastsfavorablywithpoorerflorasinsurroundingareas.Limestonefloras
canbebestidentifiedbylookingforcertaingenera(e.g.,Dianthus,Fagus,Bromus,Festuca,
Linaria,etc.)thataretypicalofthistypeofsubstrate.
Halophyteflorasrepresentacharacteristicplantassociationfoundmainlyinsalinesoils
containingsodiumchloride,sodiumcarbonate,orsodiumsulfate.Halophyteflorashavebeen
usedextensivelyintheUSSRasaguidetowaterresources(Chikishev,1965),andoneofthe
subgroups(seleniumfloras)hasbeenusedextensivelyandsuccessfullyinthesearchfor
uraniuminthewesternUnitedStates.
Seleniumflorasrepresentoneofthemostsuccessfulapplicationsofthegeobotanicalmethod.
Cannonandhercoworkers(Cannon,1957,1960,1964CannonandStarrett,1956),by
mappingthedistributionoftypicalseleniumplants,wereabletodiscoverseveraluranium
depositsintheColoradoPlateauareaoftheUnitedStatesbecauseoftheassociationofselenium
anduraniuminthecarnotiteareaofthisregion.
Serpentineflorasrepresentperhapsoneofthemostextremeformsofacharacteristicflora.
Serpentinefloras(Brooks,1987)aretypicallydeficientinnumbersandtypesofspeciesand
usuallyhaveendemicplantssometimesconfinedonlytoafewsquarekilometers.Plantsnot
confinedtoserpentineareusuallymuchmorestuntedonthissubstratebecauseofthehigh
magnesiumcontentofthesoil,whichaffectstheuptakeofcalciumbymanyplants.Other
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factorsthatcontrolserpentineflorasarethehighlevelsofthetoxicelementssuchasnickeland
chromiumandthelowlevelsofessentialnutrientssuchaspotassium,nitrogen,andphosphorus.
Zinc(galmei)florasarefoundtypicallyinWesternEuropeandbearsomeresemblanceto
serpentinecommunities.Plantgrowthisretarded,broadleafplantsareabsent,andendemic
formsarecommon.OneofthemostinterestingcomponentsofzincfloraisViolacalaminaria,
whichaccumulateszinctoahighdegreeandwasusedbyminersover100yragointhesearch
forzincdeposits.

PlantMapping
Althoughsomeplantcommunities,suchasserpentinefloras,arereadilydistinguishableona
cursoryexaminationoftheenvironment,thisisnotthecaseformostcommunities.Inmany
cases,itwillbenecessarytocarryoutsomesortofproceduresuchasplantmapping(see
VegetationMapping)todeterminethenatureofthiscommunityandhencetodetectgeologic
boundariesinthearea.
Themostaccuratewayofmappingistodividetheareaintosampleplotsknownasquadrats.
Thesizeofthesequadratsisinfluencedbythesizeofthesocalledminimalareai.e.,the
smallestareacontainingarepresentativeselectionofmostoftheplantstobefoundinthearea.
RefertoGreigSmith(1964)forafurtherdiscussionoftheconceptofminimalarea.Having
selectedthequadrats,thenumberofspecimensofeachspeciesineachquadratshouldthenbe
countedandthedataexpressedinasuitableform,likethatinFig.1,whichshowshowa
serpentinitegabbrocontacthasbeendelineatedbyplantmappinginWesternAustralia.
http://staticcontent.springer.com.scihub.org/image/prt%3A978038730844
9%2F7/MediaObjects/9780387308449_7_Part_Fig1_HTML.jpg
FIGURE1
DatafrombelttransectofanareainWesternAustraliashowingtheapparentinfluenceofthegeology,
topography,andsoilgeochemistryonthedistributionoftwoplantspecies.

Ifdifferencesinsubstrateproduceonlyasubtlechangeinvegetation,evenplantmappingwill
notbesufficienttocharacterizethesubstrate.Insuchcasessomeformofdiscriminantanalysis
maybecarriedout.Table1showshowdiscriminantanalysisofgeobotanicaldata(Nielsenet
al.,1973)wasusedtopredictthenatureofthreesubstratesonthebasisofthedistribution.
TABLE1.
TheUseofDiscriminantAnalysisofGeobotanicalDatatoPredicttheNatureoftheSubstrate
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NumberofCorrectPredictions

Amphibolites

Ultrabasics

Transitional
Areas

VariablesUsed

D 2

(26
quadrats)

(11
quadrats)

(7
quadrats)

22

0.520

11

25

5.68

11

22,25

6.20

10

22,23,25

9.44

15

21,22,25

7.42

16

2,22,25

8.30

21

2,3,22,25

9.13

16

2,4,22,25

12.14

17

2,4,15,22,25

21.15

19

2,4,15,16,22,25

29.10

22

10

2,4,15,16,17,22,25

29.14

22

11

2,4,15,16,17,22,25,27

29.42

20

10

2,4,15,16,17,22,25,30

32.88

21

10

2,4,13,15,16,17,22,25,30

41.37

22

10

2,4,13,15,16,17,22,25,26,30

42.47

22

10

2,4,5,13,15,16,22,25,30,36

45.72

23

11

2,4,5,13,15,16,22,25,30,32,36

44.16

22

11

1,2,4,13,15,16,17,22,25,26,30

48.24

23

10

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48.24

23

10

1,2,4,5,13,15,16,17,22,25,26,30

50.37

24

10

1,2,4,5,7,13,15,16,17,22,25,26,30

51.77

24

10

1,2,4,5,9,13,15,16,17,22,25,26,30

56.60

24

1,2,4,5,8,9,13,15,16,17,22,25,26,30

58.71

24

10

1,2,4,5,8,9,13,15,16,17,18,22,25,26,30

67.82

24

10

1,2,4,5,8,9,13,15,16,17,18,20,22,25,26,30

76.23

24

10

1,2,4,5,8,9,13,15,16,17,18,20,22,25,26,30,31

89.76

24

1,2,4,5,8,9,13,15,16,17,18,20,22,25,26,30,32

81.34

23

1,2,4,5,8,9,13,15,16,17,18,20,22,25,26,30,34

100.3

24

10

1,2,4,5,8,9,13,15,16,17,18,20,22,25,26,30,34,35

119.4

25

1,2,4,5,8,9,13,15,16,17,18,20,22,25,26,30,34,35,36

137.5

25

10

1,2,4,5,8,9,10,13,15,16,17,18,20,22,25,26,30,34,35,36

138.1

25

10

1,2,4,5,8,9,11,13,15,16,17,18,20,22,25,26,30,34,35,36

138.2

25

10

1,2,4,5,8,9,12,13,15,16,17,18,20,22,25,26,30,34,35,36

140.2

24

10

1,2,4,5,8,9,13,14,15,16,17,18,20,22,25,26,30,34,35,36

147.2

25

10

1,2,4,5,8,9,13,15,16,17,18,20,21,22,25,26,30,34,35,36

144.3

24

10

1,2,4,5,8,9,13,15,16,17,18,20,22,25,26,29,30,34,35,36

142.8

24

10

1,2,4,5,8,9,13,15,16,17,18,19,22,25,26,29,33,34,35,36

173.9

26

10

Source:Nielsen,1972.Note:Numbersinfirstcolumnrepresentcodenumbersfor36plantspecies.

Theareawasdividedintoabelttransectcontaining44quadrats:26onamphibolites,11on
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ultrabasics,and7onatransitionalzonebetweenthetworocktypes.Foreachrocktype,a
computercalculationwasmadeofaregressionequationoftheform
http://staticcontent.springer.com.scihub.org/image/prt%3A978038730844
9%2F7/MediaObjects/9780387308449_7_Part_Equa_HTML.gif

Thevariablesx1x36weretheabundancesofeachofthe36plantspeciesinthequadrats.The
constantCaandcoefficientsl1l36wereselectedbythecomputertomaximizethedifferences
inyforallthreerockformations.Thedegreeofthisdifferentiationcanbeconveniently
measuredbythesocalledMahalanobisD2statistic(Mahalanobis,1936).ThemagnitudeofD2
isanindicationoftheeffectivenessofthediscrimination.Table2showsthatwithseveral
combinationsofspecies,itwaspossibletoachieveacorrectpredictionforatleast41outofthe
44quadrats,whereasplantmappingalonewasquiteinadequatetodiscriminatetherocktypes.
TABLE2.
PlantIndicatorsofMineralDeposits

Element

Species

Common
name

Family

Locality

Reference

Boron

Eurotiaceratoides
(L)

Winterfat

Chenopodiaceae

USSR

Buyalovand
Shvyryaeva
(1961)

Salsolanitraria(L)

Saltwort

Chenopodiaceae

USSR

Buyalovand
Shvyryaeva
(1961)

Limonium
suffruticosum(L)

Statice

Plumbaginaceae

USSR

Buyalovand
Shvyryaeva
(1961)

Cobalt

Crassulaalba(L)

Crassulaceae

Zaire

Malaisseet
al.(1979)

Crotalaria
cobalticola(U)

(Duvigneaud
(1959)
Brooksetal.
(1977)

Haumaniastrum

Rattlebox

Leguminosae

Zaire

Cuflower

Labiatae

Zaire

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Brooks
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Haumaniastrum
robertii(U)

Cuflower

Labiatae

Zaire

Brooks
(1977)

Silenecobalticola
(U)

Catchfly

Caryophyllaceae

Zaire

Duvigneaud
(1959)

Copper

Acalypha
dikuluwensis(U)

Euphorbiaceae

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Aeolanthus
biformifolius(U)

Labiatae

Zaire

Malaisseet
al.(1978)

Anisopappus
hoffmanianus(U)

Compositae

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Armeriamaritima
(L)

SeaPink

Plumbaginaceae

Wales

Henwood
(1857),
Ernst(1969)

Ascolepsis
metallorum(U)

Cyperaceae

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Beciumhomblei
(U)

Basil

Labiatae

Zaire/Zambia

Howard
Williams
(1970)

B.Peschianum(U)

Basil

Labiatae

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Bulbostylisbarbata
(U)

Butterwood

Cyperaceae

Australia

Nicollsetal.
(1965)

B.burchelli(L)

Butterwood

Cyperaceae

Australia

Cole(1971)

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Commelinazigzag
(U)

Commelinaceae

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Crotalaria
cobalticola(U)

C.francoisiana
(U)

Rattlebox

Rattlebox

Leguminosae

Leguminosae

Zaire

Duvigneaud
(1959)

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Cyanotiscupricola
(U)

Commelinaceae

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Ecboliumlugardae
(L)

Acanthaceae

S.W.Africa

Cole(1971)

Elsholtzia
haichowensis(L)

Labiatae

China

SeSjue
Tszinand
SjujBan
Lian(1953)

Eschscholzia
mexicana(L)

Calif.
poppy

Papaveraceae

U.S.A.

Chaffeeand
Gale(1976)

Gladiolus
actinomorphanthus
(U)

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

G.duvigneaudii
(U)

G.klattianuss.sp.
angustifolius(U)

G.peschianus(U)

Iridaceae

Iridaceae

Iridaceae

Iridaceae

G.tshombeanus

s.sp.parviflorus
Iridaceae
(U)
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Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet

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(U)

deSmet
(1963)

Gutenbergia
cuprophila(U)

Compositae

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Gypsophilapatrinii
(L)

Karum

Caryophyllaceae

USSR

Nesvetailova
(1961)

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Haumaniastrum
katangense(U)

Cuflower

Labiatae

H.robertii(U)

Cuflower

Labiatae

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Helichrysum
leptolepis(L)

Everlasting

Compositae

S.W.Africa

Cole(1971)

Impatiens
balsamina(L)

Balsaminaceae

India

Aery(1977)

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Lindernia
damblonii(U)

Scrophulariaceae

L.perennis(U)

Scrophulariaceae

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Lychnisalpina(L)

Campion

Caryophyllaceae

Fennoscandia

Brooksetal.
(1979a,b)

Merceyalatifolia
(U)

Worldwide

Persson
(1948)

Mielichhoferia
mielichhoferi(U)

CuMoss

Worldwide

Persson
(1948)

Minuartiaverna
(L)

Caryophyllaceae

Wales

Ernst(1969)

Bryophyta

Bryophyta

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Oligotrichum
hercynicum(U)

Bryophyta

Alaska

Cannon
(1971)

Pandiaka
metallorum(U)

Amaranthaceae

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Polycarpaea
corymbosa(L)

Pink

Caryophyllaceae

India

Venkatesh
(1964,1966)

P.spirostylis(L)

Cuflower

Caryophyllaceae

Australia

Brooksand
Radford
(1978)

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Rendliacupricola
(U)

Sopubia
metallorum(U)

S.neptunii(U)

Sporobolus
stelliger(U)

Gramineae

Scrophulariaceae

Scrophulariaceae

Gramineae

S.deschampsioides
(U)

Gramineae

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Tephrosiasp.nov.
(L)

Gramineae

Queensland

Nicollsetal.
(1965)

Vernoniacinerea
(L)

Ironweed

Compositae

India

Venkatesh
(1964,1966)

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V.ledocteana(U)

Ironweed

Compositae

Zaire

Duvigneaud
and
Denaeyer
deSmet
(1963)

Iron

Acaciapatens(L)

Leguminosae

W.Australia

Cole(1965)

Burtoniapolyzyga
(L)

Leguminosae

W.Australia

Cole(1965)

Calythrix
longiflora(L)

Myrtaceae

W.Australia

Cole(1965)

Chenopodium
rhadinostachyum
(L)

Chenpodiaceae

W.Australia

Cole(1965)

Eriachnedominii
(L)

Gramin

W.Australia

Cole(1965)

Goodenia
scaevolina(L)

Goodeniaceae

W.Australia

Cole(1965)

Manganese

Crotalariaflorida

var.congolensis
(L)

Leguminosae

Zaire

Duvigneaud
(1959)

Maytenus
bureauvianus(L)

Celastraceae

New
Caledonia

Jaffr(1977)

Nickel

Alyssumspp.

Madwort

Cruciferae

S.Europe
and

Turkey

Brooksetal.
(1979a)

Hybanthus
austrocaledonicus
(U)

Violaceae

New
Caledonia

Brooksetal.
(1974)

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H.floribundus(L)

Violaceae

W.Australia

Severneand
Brooks
(1972),Cole
(1973)

Lychnisalpina

var.serpenticola
(L)

Campion

Caryophyllaceae

Fennoscandia

Rune(1953)

Selenium
and
Uranium

Astervenustus(L)

Woody
Aster

Compositae

Western
U.S.A.

Cannon
(1957)

Astragalusalbulus
(L)

Poison
vetch

Leguminosae

Western
U.S.A.

Cannon
(1957)

A.argillosus(L)

Poison
vetch

Leguminosae

Western
U.S.A.

Cannon
(1957)

A.confertiflorus
(L)

Poison
vetch

Leguminosae

Western
U.S.A.

Cannon
(1957)

A.pattersoni(U)

Poison
vetch

Leguminosae

Western
U.S.A.

Cannon
(1957)

A.preussi(U)

Poison
vetch

Leguminosae

Western
U.S.A.

Cannon
(1957)

A.thompsonae(L)

Poison
vetch

Leguminosae

Western
U.S.A.

Cannon
(1957)

Zinc

Armeriahalleri(L)

Thrift

Plumbaginaceae

Pyrenees

Palouetal.
(1965)

Hutchinsiaalpina
(L)

Cruciferae

Pyrenees

Palouetal.
(1965)

Minuartiaverna
(L)

Caryophyllaceae

W.Europe

Ernst(1968)

Thlaspicalaminare
(U)

Pennycress

Violaceae

W.Europe

Ernst(1968)

Violacalaminaria
(U)

Violet

Caryophyllaceae

W.Europe

Ernst(1968)

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Source:Brooks,1979.
LlocalindicatorUuniversalindicator*Phylum

IndicatorPlants
Indicatorplantsindicatebytheirpresencetheexistenceofmineralsorofaspecificrocktype.
Theyaredividedintotwoclasses.Universalindicatorsarefoundoverlargeareas,whereas
localindicators(oftenendemicplants)areeffectiveonlyinarestrictedlocality.
Primaryindicatorsgiveadirectresponsetothemineralthatisbeingsoughtwhereassecondary
indicatorsgiveanindirectindicationbyrespondingtoanothermineralorelementthatis
howeverassociatedwiththemineralforwhichsearchisbeingmade.Anexampleofthisisthe
useoftheseleniumindicatorAstragalusspeciestodiscoveruraniumdepositsinareaswhere
uraniumandseleniumhaveageochemicalassociation(Cannon,1964).Indicatorplantshave
beenlistedbyBrooks(1972,1979,1983)andbyCannon(1979)(seeTable2).

IndicatorsofCopper
Amongthemoresuccessfulindicatorplantsarethosethatshowthepresenceofcopperand
selenium.ThecopperindicatorBeciumhomblei(HowardWilliams,1970)hasbeensuccessfully
usedtodelineatecopperdepositsinZambiaandRhodesia.Itsdistributionrepresentsacaseof
interspecificcompetitionwiththecloselyrelatedB.obovatum.B.obovatumandother
competitorscannotgrow.BrooksandMalaisse(1985)havedescribedtheoccurrenceand
ecologyofover50copperindicatorsinZare.

IndicatorsofSelenium
Plantindicatorsofseleniumarenumerousandhavebeenusedsuccessfullyinmineral
exploration.Cannon(1957,1960,1964)showedthattheycompriseAstervenustaandvarious
speciesofAstragalus,Oryzopsis,andStanleya.Themechanismwheretheseplantsactas
secondaryindicatorsisthattheuraniumorecarnotiteappearstoincreasetheavailabilityof
seleniumtoplants,andhence,thedensityofseleniumaccumulatingplantscanbesome
indicationofthepresenceofuraniummineralization.

BryophytesasIndicators
Bryophytes(mosses)canactasindicatorsbecausesomespecieswillonlygrowovercertain
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mineraldeposits.Anexampleofthisisthewellknowncoppermoss(Mielichhoferia
mielichhoferi).Persson(1956)suggestedanovelwayofusingthesemossesinthesearchfor
minerals.HeexaminedthecollectionlocalitiesofspecimensintheStockholmHerbariumand
arrangedfortheselocalitiestobeexaminedbyotherprospectingtechniques.

AccumulatorPlants
Someplantsaccumulateextraordinarilyhighamountsofsomeelementswithoutnecessarily
beingindicators.Examplesofthisarecobaltaccumulatorswithupto1.8%intheash
(Duvigneaud,1959BrooksandMalaisse,1985Brooksetal.,1980),seleniumaccumulators
withupto4.6%intheash(Cannon,1960)andzincaccumulatorscontainingupto1%intheash
(ReevesandBrooks,1983).Perhapsthemostspectacularexamplesofelementaluptakeare
nickelaccumulatingspeciesofthegenusHybanthus.SeverneandBrooks(1972)andCole
(1973)havereportedupto23%nickelintheashoftheAustralianspecies.H.floribundus,
whereasBrooksetal.(1974)havereported25%ofthiselementintheashoftheNew
CaledonianspeciesHybanthusaustrocaledonicus.Evenhigherlevels(upto40%)were
reportedbyJaffrandSchmid(1974)fortheNewCaledonianplantPsychotriadouarrei.In
Italy,MinguzziandVergnano(1948)reportedover10%nickelintheashofAlyssumbertolonii.
Some144hyperaccumulatorsofnickelhavenowbeendiscovered(Brooks,1987).

MorphologicalandMutationalChangesinPlants
Changesinthemorphologyofplantsandevidenceofdiseaseareusefulaidsingeobotanical
prospectingandhavebeenusedasfieldguidessincetheeighteenthcentury.Earlyworkershad
torelyonobviouschangessuchasdwarfismorvariationincolor.Withtheincreasing
sophisticationofmodernscience,however,andwithagreaterknowledgeofplantphysiology,
manyothervisualindicationsofmineralizationhavebeennotedandcanbeusedinprospecting.
Someofthemoreimportantmorphologicalandmutationalchangesinplantsareasfollows.

AbnormalityofForm
Abnormalityofformisoftenasymptomofthepresenceofboronorradioactiveminerals.
BuyalovandShvyryaeva(1961)noteddwarfismanddeformationofSalicornaherbaceaand
otherplantsundertheinfluenceofboron.Shacklette(1962)hasreportedonvariationsinthebog
bilberry(Vacciniumuliginosum)undertheinfluenceofradioactivity.

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Chlorosis(Yellowing)ofLeaves
Chlorosisofleavesisacommonfieldguidetothepresenceofexcessiveamountsofmany
elementssuchaschromium,cobalt,copper,manganese,nickel,orzinc.Itwasnoticedasearly
asinthesixteenthcentury(Agricola,1556).Chlorosisiscausedbytheaboveelementsbeing
antagonistictoironuptakebyplants,andisasymptomofirondeficiency.

ColorChanges
Colorchangesinplantsareoftentheresultofradioactivity.Shacklette(1964)hasobserved
extensivevariationsinthecolorofflowersofEpilobiumangustifoliumundertheinfluenceof
radioactivity.Colorvariationsinflowerscausedbyothermineralshavebeennotedby
BazilevskayaandSibireva(1950)andMalyugaetal.(1959).Gigantismisanunusual
phenomenonreportedbyShchapova(1938)forZosterananagrowinginbituminousareasinthe
USSR.

SatelliteImageryandAerialGeobotanicalSurveys
Amajorproblemofgeobotanicalsurveyscarriedoutonfootisthatitisdifficulttosurveya
largearea.Thisproblemisavoidedbysurveyscarriedoutfromtheair.Aerovisualsurveys,
whicharepopularintheUSSR,involvemarkingonaerialmapsthenatureofthevegetation
coverasdeterminedbyavisualinspectionfromtheair(seeAerialSurveys,General).
Perhapsthemostusefultechniqueinaerialsurveysisinfraredphotography.Vegetationhasa
highspectralreflectanceabove800nminthenearinfraredregion.Colorfilmsensitivetothis
partofthespectrumgivesanimagethatshowsmuchmorecontrastforvegetationandallows
forbetterdifferentiationandidentificationofcomponentsofthevegetationcover.
Sinceunhealthyplantsgivealowerspectralreflectancethanhealthyplants,itwouldseemthat
vegetationaffectedadverselybymineralizationinthesubstrateshouldbeidentifiableinan
aerialinfraredphotograph.Inpractice,itisseldompossibletodetectmineralizationbythis
methodbecausesubtlechangesinafewindividualspecimensareapparentonlyiftheycanbe
comparedwithalargenumberofsurroundingplantsofthesamespecies.Thissituation
presupposesamonocropsuchasanartificiallyplantedforest,andtheseconditionsareseldom
metinnature.Nevertheless,itisusuallypossibletodetectbyinfraredphotographydifferent
geologicformationsresultingindifferentplantcommunitiesgrowingonthem.
Geobotanicalprospectingfromtheairhasnowbeenrevolutionizedbythedevelopmentof
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satelliteimagery(Brooks,1983)wheretheterrainisscannedatfourwavelengths(including
infrared)bysatellitessuchastheLANDSATseries.Resolutionisabout30m.ThenewFrench
SPOTsatelliteshaveamuchbetterresolution.

AdvantagesofGeobotanicalProspectingMethods
Onceanorientationsurveyhasbeencarriedout,costsareextremelylow.
Differentgeologicformationsaswellasmineralizationwithinthemcanbedetectedby
geobotanicalobservations.
Satelliteimagerandaerialmethodscanbeappliedtotheprocedurewithconsequentsaving
intimeandeffort.
Indicatorplantscansometimesshowthepresenceofmineralizationatdepthunder
conditionswhereothermethodswouldgiveanegativeresponse.

DisadvantagesofGeobotanicalProspectingMethods
Ahighdegreeofindividualskillisneededfromworkersinthisfield.
Dataobtainedfromorientationsurveysarenotnecessarilyofuniversalapplicationandmay
haveonlylocalsignificance.
Insomecasesthemethodcanbeappliedonlyseasonally,suchaswhenplantsareinflower.
Themethodmaybeappliedonlywherevegetationconditionsarefavorable.
IntheWestlittlecoordinatedresearchinthisfieldisbeingundertakenatpresent.
Thislistingofadvantagesanddisadvantagesisnotcomplete,butitcoversthemainpoints.A
considerationofparamountimportanceisthefactthatgeobotanicalprospectingisjustoneof
manytechniquesandismeanttosupplementratherthanreplaceothermethods.Untila
sufficientlylargepoolofskilledworkersinthisfieldcanbetrained,itwillnotbepossibleto
testthisprocedureadequatelyortocompareitobjectivelywithothermethodsofexploration.

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