Slave Volcanogenic Massive Sulphides (VMS)

Slave Volcanogenic Massive Sulphides (VMS)

Pillow lava rocks


The Slave Geological Province lies between Great Slave Lake and Coronation Gulf, and is well known for its world-class gold and diamond deposits.  The Slave province also has base-metals (combinations of zinc, lead, and copper) and precious metals (gold and silver) deposits known as volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits (VMS). These VMS deposits are associated with ancient volcanoes (volcanic belts) over 2.6 billion years old and are now preserved as bedrock of the Canadian Shield. The aim of this project is to further assess the VMS deposit potential of the Slave Province in the NWT.

Map of Slave Geoogical Province with VMS deposits


The project considers all volcanic belts within the Slave Province of the NWT. Areas with complex geology, known VMS deposits, areas that have excellent bedrock exposures, and locations close to the proposed Slave Geological Province road corridor have been targeted for mapping.

Geologist standing on red-coloured bedrock


VMS deposits have high economical potential. The Slave Province is known to contain such deposits, but due to generally poor infrastructure, these have been relatively under-explored. Renewed mineral industry exploration of these deposits began in the late 2000s, but this has been focused almost entirely in Nunavut, even though deposits are known in the NWT and the same geology exists in the NWT. New bedrock geology maps are valuable insights into the geology of an area and serve as legacy data for the future.

Geologic map of the Sharrie Lake volcanic rocks


This project maps the bedrock at 1:20 000 scale or better within volcanic belts, and 1:50 000 scale within the surrounding plutonic bodies.  This detailed mapping, combined with lithogeochemistry and high-precision uranium-lead zircon dating of rocks aims at collecting data about the history of the Slave Province as a whole.  By studying volcanic rocks with known VMS deposits, and those without, we are working on understanding the timing and conditions of mineralizing events to provide geological vectors towards future discoveries.  The project continues to be built on producing new bedrock geology maps with concurrent value-added research being conducted through external partnerships.

Rock hammer and sulphide mineralization


Bedrock mapping within the Beaulieu River area, hosting the Sunrise deposits, took place in 2016 and 2017.  Detailed mapping and sampling of rhyolite bodies will take place in 2018 and 2019.  Mapping in the Point Lake area began in 2017 and is ongoing. The 2018 field mapping season was based in the Jolly Lake area and focussed on mineral potential and factors in metal distribution across the proposed Slave Geological Province Access Corridor.  Plans for the 2019 field season include work at Newbigging, Desteffany, and Point lakes with a focus on volcanic belts and their relationship to surrounding plutonic rocks.

Exposed bedrock and vegetation

Partners and Support

  • Mount Royal University: Michelle DeWolfe
  • University of Saskatchewan: Camille Partin
  • Consultant (former NTGS): Valerie Jackson
  • University of Toronto: Mike Hamilton
  • Other Acknowledgements: Harold Gibson (Laurentian University), Thomas Chacko (University of Alberta), Jesse Reimink (Carnegie Institute)


Slave craton; VMS mineralization; volcanic belts; Archean tectonics; bedrock mapping; detailed bedrock mapping; major and trace element geochemistry; Nd isotope geochemistry; zircon Hf isotope geochemistry; Yellowknife Supergroup; Banting Group; Kam Group; Central Slave Cover Group