Pick axes and a diamondDiamond Geology and Exploration

Improving exploration success in Northwest Territories with regional surficial mapping products and overcoming the challenges in providing high-quality information in vast and remote regions

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 - 10:00am to 10:20am Theatre One


D.A. Sacco (Presenting)
Palmer Environmental Consulting Group Inc.
R.J. McKillop
Palmer Environmental Consulting Group Inc.

The Northwest Territories has significant potential for economic mineralization. Diamond, gold, volcanogenic massive sulphide, tungsten, lead-zinc, cobalt and rare earth mineralization has been identified across the region. The vastness and remoteness complicate field practices and necessitate exploration methods that are scalable, cost-effective and can detect mineralization at a range of distances. As such, drift prospecting has been a fundamental method in mineral exploration for many years and led to a large proportion of the mineral discoveries in the region. Subglacial till is the optimal sample medium for drift prospecting because it has the nearest composition to bedrock of all sediments, it is common across the landscape, it has a relatively simple transport history, and it can produce detectable anomalies that are many square kilometres in extent. As many of these discoveries have shown, drift prospecting using subglacial till can point an arrow to mineralization. The arrow, however, can become significantly obscured where the surficial geology is complex or subglacial till has been modified or remobilized by post-depositional processes such as glacial meltwater or cryoturbation. Resulting changes to geochemical and mineralogical concentrations or distribution reshape primary dispersal patterns resulting in anything from smeared dispersals to discontinuous anomaly clusters with no indicated source. As discoveries continue in ideal settings, less attention is given to the more complex areas with similar or better mineral potential. To help exploration companies unravel the complexities in the surficial geology, the Northwest Territories Geological Survey has initiated regional surficial geology mapping programs specifically tailored to exploration throughout NTS map sheets 075M/N, 076C/D/E/F and 086H. These products provide a comprehensive surficial framework that informs exploration practices, and derivative products designed to improve success by identifying what map units are well to poorly suited for till sampling. This presentation will demonstrate how the surficial geology and till sampling suitability mapping can be used to plan and execute more streamlined till sampling programs, determine the utility of existing data and optimize evaluation methods. In addition, we will discuss the approaches used to overcome the challenges of producing detailed, high-quality products in vast and remote regions under aggressive timelines. These components culminate in improved data collection and program efficiency, higher quality data and suitable evaluation methods and a reduction in the risks and costs associated with exploration in remote regions.