Mountains graphic with white diamonds on itGeoscience and Exploration

GSC’s Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals Program (GEM): Results from 12 years of Northern geoscience

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - 8:00am to 8:20am Theatre One


D. Lebel (Presenting)
Geological Survey of Canada
L. Richard
Geological Survey of Canada
M. Plouffe
Geological Survey of Canada
C. Ozyer
Geological Survey of Canada
S. Irwin
Geological Survey of Canada
N. Shea
Geological Survey of Canada
S. Dehler
Geological Survey of Canada

The Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM) program, carried out by the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) in collaboration with partners, lays public geoscience foundations for sustainable economic development in Canada’s North. The 12-year (2008-2020) $200 million dollar collaborative program has been providing modern, public geoscience that is setting the stage for long-term decision making related to responsible land-use and resource development. Geoscience knowledge produced by GEM supports evidence-based exploration for new energy and mineral resources, and enables Northern communities to make informed decisions about their land, economy and society.

GEM’s success comes from the close collaboration between the GSC, provincial and territorial geological surveys, communities and Northerners. Results include close to 2000 publications, 500 maps, 400 engagement sessions with communities and their organizations, one million line-km flown on geophysical surveys. It is clear the GEM products provide a critical first step for a better scientific understanding of Canada’s northern geology, and help promote sustainable economic and social development. Since the program’s inception in 2008, GEM has also supported Canadian geoscience initiatives by providing about 50 grants to academia, colleges and Northern communities.

GEM studies have economic impacts across the north – from identifying mineral expansion areas, such as gold in the Yukon and Nunavik/Labrador, to identifying areas in the Northwest Territories previously thought to have little resource value. In addition to the economic opportunities, GEM continues to promote geoscience through engagement with Northern communities, along with hosting community learning opportunities, including a GEM-led field school in Taloyoak, Nunavut.


GEM also had impacts on Northern land-use planning. The Ukkusiksalik National Park in Nunavut was expanded by 327 km2 after an exchange of land between the Government of Canada and the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) that was informed by results from GEM. The transfer will result in the conservation of culturally and archaeologically significant land that will benefit all Inuit and Nunavummiut.


The GEM program has improved geological research capacities through the development and refinement of remote predictive mapping methodologies. Other unexpected discoveries, such as the identification of the world’s oldest fungus fossil in shale samples taken from Tuktut Nogait, Northwest Territories, as well as evidence of a previously unknown exoplanet strike found in field samples from Nunavut, were also facilitated by this program.


The speaker will present an overall summary of the realizations accomplished during these 12 years, as well as how GEM knowledge products are and will be disseminated in the near future.


GEM will be completed in 2020, but the research and results generated from this program will have lasting benefits in the North for decades to come. The GSC has undertaken a program planning initiative to plant the seeds for a successor, new collaborative geoscience initiative in the North, beyond 2020, which will be touched upon.