As reported on wired.co.uk, a study funded by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) indicates that termites can be helpful in finding gold and other mineral deposits. The scientists found high concentrations of gold in termite mounds in West Australian goldfields.
Aaron Stewart, an entomologist from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said: “We’re using insects to help find new gold and other mineral deposits. These resources are becoming increasingly hard to find because much of the Australian landscape is covered by a layer of eroded material that masks what’s going on deeper underground.”
Termites and ants burrow down deep into the material which retains a “fingerprint” of the underlying gold deposits. They then bring traces of this fingerprint to the surface and stockpile it in their mounds. In order to identify the metal accumulation in the termites, Stewart and his team use X-rays and electron microscopy. They found that they accumulated zinc, magnesium, iron and gold.