Geobotanical prospecting refers to prospecting based on indicator plants like metallophytes and the analysis of vegetation. For example, the Viscaria Mine in Sweden was named after the plant Silene suecica syn. Viscaria alpina that was used by prospecters to discover the ore deposits. A "most faithful" indicator plant is Ocimum centraliafricanum , the "copper plant" or "copper flower" formerly known as Becium homblei , found only on copper and nickel containing soils in central to southern Africa. In , Stephen E. Haggerty identified Pandanus candelabrum as a botanical indicator for kimberlite pipes, a source of mined diamonds.
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Botanical methods of prospecting involve the use of vegetation in searching for ore deposits. Although these methods have been used for several centuries, there is much confusion about terminology because there are two distinct methods of botanical prospecting. Geobotanical methods are visual and rely mainly on an interpretation of the plant cover to detect morphological changes or plant associations typical of certain types of geologic environments or of ore deposits within these environments.
Geobotanical methods were first used in Roman times when vegetation was employed in the search for subterranean water.
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Definition of geobotanical prospecting