In the mining and geology is called prospecting with the search and exploration of new, previously unknown deposits by geological, geophysical, geochemical and mining methods. The former name Prospecting is hardly in use today.

Near-surface deposits were often discovered in the course of history by accident. Today, the systematic search for new deposits usually begins with a thorough literature and study of maps in specialist libraries in the geological surveys ( country offices) in each country and (if possible ) in mining companies that are already active in the region. Since the cost of an extensive exploration program are very high, the work must be carried out in different phases, each ending with a clear decision of the geologist, whether it is worthwhile to continue the work, or cancel.


The first phase of the search consists of the pre-investigation ( Reconnaissance ) in the field. This is followed by the actual Prospecting and exploring. The general geology of the region is fairly well known at this time; However deposits are still unknown.

An obvious approach in this situation is to first look in areas that already have the desired raw materials deposits are known, so that known by prospectors saying " elephants can be found in the elephant country ". On the other hand, it also has its advantages, to search in unexplored regions, from which only a few geological data. The risk of utter failure success must be weighed against the chances of an unexpected, great find.

Thereby provide an important basis for the first summary maps aerial photos, satellite images and geophysical surveys with the help of airplanes or helicopters, so-called Airborne method. However, these data alone are worthless without a review of the geological conditions in the field, such as the investigation and geochemical sampling of upcoming rocks, pebbles and river sediments. For this, the observation of soil discoloration, abnormal comes in terrain and vegetation.

Fund and findings

If the evidence suggests a deposit, you go to special mapping across, digs at the surface, or leads first flat exploration drilling. In this phase, methods of ground geophysics are applied, such as gravimetry, seismic, magnetic, electrical and radar methods.

For the prospecting of a reservoir is expected to periods of about three years. At the end of this phase should be at least a höffiges (that is a good Erzausbeutung promising ) area to be known, which warrants further investigation. In the best case, following the completed prospecting exploration of the detected occurrence.

Prospecting on the seabed

According to § 4 Seabed Mining Act ( MbergG ) anyone who wants to conduct prospecting in an area beyond the national jurisdiction on the seabed or in the subsoil must be registered by the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority.