Donated mineral exploration information stored in less-than-ideal conditions. Credit: NTGS.

Digitizing and Cataloguing Historical Exploration Information

Digitizing and Cataloguing Historical Exploration Research


The Northwest Territories Geological Survey (NTGS) has thousands of donated geological records from past exploration projects and closed mines.   The archives contain original information, including field notes and maps, air photos, drill logs, and hand samples. There are also geological reports and maps, assays, thin sections, proposals, news clippings, annual reports and press releases. This material has been donated from Ptarmigan Mine, Terra Mine, Con & Giant Mines, Discovery Mine, Salmita, Tundra and other private sector entities. Although most of the material is from the 1970s and 1980s, some dates back to the mid-1930s.  A database of digitized archive files is being constructed so that this information can be accessed remotely to support future research and mineral exploration in the Northwest Territories. 


The geological archives were kept in warehouses in Yellowknife, which were sometimes in less-than-ideal conditions for long-term preservation or year-round accessibility. The archives were predominantly stored in stacked cardboard boxes and filing cabinets and poorly organized with no easy way to determine their contents. 


Mineral exploration and geology research is expensive, especially in remote areas like the Northwest Territories.  The mining industry, environmental and engineering consultants, Aboriginal groups, academia, and other government departments depend on the NTGS to provide as much geological information as possible to inform their investment and activities. The research contained in the NTGS archives represents millions of dollars in geological work that could support economic development in the territory if the information could be efficiently accessed.  


The NTGS has contracted Purple Rock Inc. to help with digitizing and indexing the geological archives.  This will result in a database of searchable files. 


The project was initiated in January 2015 with an inventory of the digital and physical files.  Purple Rock began working on this project toward the end of 2015 and in a few short months had indexed more than 15,000 digital files that are now ready to be entered into a database.  In 2016 it is anticipated an additional 10,000 to 20,000 digital files will be indexed and scanned.  By summer 2017 clients will be able to search and download files from a simple database that will be incorporated into the NTGS suite of web applications. 

Partners and Support

Ainsley Zock,  ENR/ITI/Lands Informatics Shared Service Centre

Purple Rock Inc. 


Mineral Exploration Archives, Donations, Database, Historical