Ana Curcio, Eliana Chanampa, Luis Cabanillas, Ricardo Piethe

An effective multiphysics toolkit for Lithium prospecting: from geophysics to the static reservoir model in Pozuelos salt flat, Argentina.

  • Geology
  • Geophysics

The energy transition drives the energy sector to renewable energy and electrification, being the critical minerals key players in the industrial development map. They comprise rare earth elements and 35 other elements including lithium that holds the 60% of its world reserves in the so-called lithium triangle located in Argentina-Bolivia-Chile.The low electrical resistivities, variations in salt concentrations, low acoustic impedances and dynamics of the hydrogeological system, makes brine monitoring a complex geophysical exploratory problem. So, the objective is to find a suitable combination of geophysical techniques that fit the lithium exploration objectives, which are the characterization of the salt flat in depth, fluid detection, basement delineation, definition of the main structures and main faults and detection of semi-fresh water aquifers that contribute to its recharge and that are key to the water balance of the endorheic basin, which has the resource in solution. For this purpose, the evaluation of several prospecting methods in different salt flats was executed, concluding that full tensor magnetotellurics, electrical resistivity tomography and gravity comprises a toolkit that fit the objectives set.#xD;The methodology is validated in Pozuelos salt flat. The results show that the fresh water-brines contact and the recharge system were well defined and understood with the electrical resistivity tomography survey. The full tensor megnetotellurics detects two ultra-conductive units: the shallower one, interpreted as a multilayer system saturated with brines, has 400 m thickness, whereas the deeper one has a 500 thickness. Both magnetotellurics and gravity characterizes the basement and gravity successfully delineated the main structures. The geophysical interpretation is in concordance with shallow and deep exploration wells. Finally, the integration of geophysical and well data allowed the construction of a 3D static reservoir model that finds the deepest basement area at approximately 900 meters depth and discriminates eight lithofacies.

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