Cornwall Research Soil Sample Survey

What is DDC?

Deep Digital Cornwall (DDC) is a research project led by the Camborne School of Mines and the Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Exeter. DDC is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), via HM Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government (HMCLG).

The aim of the Deep Digital project is to create a world-leading cluster of research-active, highly innovative businesses applying digital solutions to a wide range of business opportunities connected to the underground including mining, geothermal, civil engineering, environmental, surveying, water resources, planning and permitting, heritage, tourism.

What is Cornwall Resources Limited relationship with DDC?

Cornwall Resources Limited are one of the delivery partners for this university-based research project and will be undertaking this soil survey on behalf of DDC. Other partners include Cornish Lithium and the South West Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications.

What is this survey?

Between in July 2021 and February 2023, Cornwall Resources conducted a soil geochemistry survey in agricultural fields of interest, in the western section of their Mineral Rights Exploration Area. So far 2200 geochemical soil samples have been collected and analysed. The soil geochemistry survey is complemented by a gravity survey and airborne electromagnetic (AEM) survey. The survey data will be made openly available to all interested parties, including industry and academia, through DDC’s 3D visualisation suite.

How is the survey going to be undertaken?

Two geologists worked together to collect samples in the field, access was agreed in advance with approximately 25 individual landowners and tenants. The sample location points were pre-planned prior to fieldwork, each point is 10m apart along 400m spaced, north to south trending traverses in the areas of interest. After driving to the closest accessible location to the sampling point, the pre-planned sample locations were staked out using a GPS. A petrol-powered auger was then used to drill small diameter holes to a maximum depth of around 70 cm (Figure 1 – 3). For each location, a 500g soil sample was collected from the bottom of the hole and placed into a sample bag. Each sample was individually described for their soil and rock content in a fieldnote book, which corresponds to their individual Deep Digital Cornwall (DDC) ID tags. Back in the office, each sample was prepared for shipment, by being weighed and organised into sacks (Figure 4). The samples were then shipped to an accredited laboratory for geochemical analysis of 53 elements. Once analysed, the data will be made available through DDC’s visualisation suite.

What is the purpose of the survey?

The survey was designed to target the western side of Cornwall Resources Mineral Exploration Area, with the traverse intending to cross-cut potential east to west trending mineralisation or lodes. Cornwall Resources have previously identified an east to west trending sheeted vein system, rich in metals such as Tin, Tungsten and Copper and associated with the emplacement of the Kit Hill Granite. Tin, Tungsten, Copper and other metals such as Lithium, are all on the UK’s Critical Minerals List and are essential for the UK’s energy transition. Soil geochemistry is a cost-effective and relatively unintrusive way to undertake mineral exploration on a large scale, data can be used by all who access it to develop geological and mineralogical models of the area, and to test geological models of mineralisation when cover formations exist. Data is also useful to other applications, such as agriculture and pollution monitoring for the areas covered. A similar survey was conducted in early 2023 by Cornish Lithium as part of the DDC project.

How might this survey affect me?

Cornwall Resources worked with over 25 individual landowners to access agricultural land in the designated sample locations along each traverse. Samples were taken in predesignated locations, with approval from the landowner and tenant. A cable avoidance tool was used to make sure no buried services were present. Any turf was cut, placed to one side and replaced after sampling was completed (Figure 5). After the sampling was completed, the hole was backfilled with any remaining soil, with little to no trace of sampling having taken place.

Contact Us

Queries should be directed to Senior Geologist, Rowan Thorne ( at Cornwall Resources Limited, quoting CRL DDC Soil Survey in the Subject..