March/April 2006

CIM Distinguished Lecturer at Porcupine Branch

By D. Duff

Left to right: Branch chair Sebastien Polgyesi, Gwendy Hall, and Damien Duff


The Porcupine Branch co-hosted a lecture and wine and cheese reception with the Porcupine Geological Discussion Group, February 16 in Timmins, featuring one of this year’s most requested CIM Distinguished Lecturers. Gwendy Hall, of the Geological Survey of Canada, spoke to a relatively small but enthusiastic group of local geoscientists on a topic near and dear to many people used to exploring for mineral deposits beneath thick overburden cover – Geochemical Exploration in Glaciated Terrain.

Hall talked of the evolution of research into soil geochemical techniques, of how minimal interest in the 70s, followed by greater interest throughout the 80s, translated into the widespread application (perhaps without sufficient research or thought) of various methodologies in the 90s and beyond.

Soil geochemistry is now used in mineral exploration but it’s the geochemical signature obtained by partial leaches that is of particular advantage in exploring for deeply buried deposits.

Results from surveys conducted by Hall and her colleagues at the Cross Lake deposit near Timmins were used to demonstrate how various parameters, including terrain, leach strength, and depth and frequency of sampling, can effect interpretation and possibly, if misunderstood, lead to false anomalies.

The increasing importance of “bugs” – microbes in the soil whose interactions with soil components, including gases, may represent a promising direction in which to do further studies, was highlighted. However, Gwendy feels that more inter-disciplinary research, including the involvement of microbiologists, is required to better understand this.

Despite the huge number of challenges facing explorationists in glaciated terrains, Hall appears confident that within five years or so we may have a much more reliable soil geochemical exploration tool available in “young” terrains such as Canada’s Abitibi Belt.

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