GEM-2 Grant Recipients (Geoscience)

2015/16 to 2016/17

Grant recipients are listed in alphabetical order.

Regional controls on upper Ordovician stratigraphy, northern Ontario and Manitoba

Proponent: Laurentian University
Project Leader: Dr. Elizabeth Turner
GEM region of interest: Hudson-Ungava
GEM priority theme(s):  Evolution of Canada’s northern sedimentary basins

Summary:  The Hudson Bay Basin is the least studied sedimentary basin in Canada despite the fact that it is one of the largest sedimentary accumulations in North America. This project will focus on key aspects of the 450-350 million year old sedimentary rocks that constitute the basin and will help determine the presence/absence of potential source rocks for Oil and Gas in this area.

Objectives:   To advance understanding of the tectonic evolution of the region and how the stratigraphic architecture and geological evolution relate to petroleum potential of the Hudson Bay basin.  The high-resolution information will provide guidance for petroleum exploration and for policy-makers regarding land use in the Hudson Bay region.

Benefits to Canada:  As the first detailed description and regional synthesis of the lowest part of the Phanerozoic circum-Laurentia succession, the study provides foundational knowledge for a large part of northern Canada’s landmass (1/5 of Ontario and 1/10 of Manitoba). Strata of similar age elsewhere in Canada are known as both hydrocarbon source rocks, as well as base-metal and gold host rocks.

Age, Correlation and Tectonic context of late Mesoproterozoic-Neoproterozoic basins in Arctic Canada

Proponent: McGill University
Project Leader: Dr. Galen Halverson 
GEM region of interest: Cordillera; Mackenzie; Rae; Baffin
GEM priority theme(s): 
Metallogeny of northern Canada; Evolution of Canada’s northern sedimentary basins; Tectonothermal evolution of northern Canada

Background:  Northern Canada hosts an unusually complete and well-preserved stratigraphic record spanning the assembly and break-up of the supercontinent Rodinia during the late Mesoproterozoic to Neoproterozoic eras (1.2 to 0.55 billion years ago). Significant recent research has shed light on the timing of eukaryotic diversification, the duration of snowball glaciations, and origin of late Proterozoic iron formation while also revealing how complex and poorly dated much of the Meso-Neoproterozoic record remains. The age, evolution, and tectonic context of these sedimentary basins, specifically the Bylot, Amundsen-Mackenzie-Ogilvie, and Selwyn basins, remain disputed and poorly constrained by geochronological data. New radioisotopic ages and high resolution chemostratigraphic datasets will enable the establishment of new age models for these basins and improve correlations within and between basins, informing interpretations of their origins, evolution in relation to break-up and assembly of Rodinia and associated igneous events, and linkages with other continental fragments. 

Objectives:  To develop new age models for poorly dated late Mesoproterozoic to Neoproterozoic sedimentary basins in the Cordillera, Mackenzie, Baffin, and Rae research areas.  These new age models will improve correlations within and between basins, informing interpretations of their origins, evolution in relation to break-up and assembly of Rodinia and associated mafic igneous events, and linkages with other cratons. 

Benefits to Canada:  Canada will receive key new stratigraphic, geochronological, and geochemical data, which will contribute fundamentally to the understanding of the geological evolution of Arctic Canada, including poorly explored sedimentary basins.   All of these basins have known mineral resources and improved correlation and calibration of strata across northern Canada will inform models for their origin and extent.

Chemostratigraphy of black shale and volcanic basins in the Cassiar terrane, Yukon

Proponent: Memorial University of Newfoundland
Project Leader: Dr. Luke Beranek
GEM region of interest: Cordillera
GEM priority theme(s): Metallogeny of northern Canada; Evolution of Canada’s northern sedimentary basins; Tectonothermal evolution of northern Canada; Crustal architecture of northern Canada

Background: Sedimentary and volcanic basins in the Yukon are rich in base metal deposits, however successful exploration of these targets can be challenging due to the inherent characteristics of black shale and mafic volcanic successions.  This study will address those challenges by using geochemical data to determine the age, stratigraphic continuity and mineral potential which will modernize and advance the knowledge in the region.  

Objectives:  Sediment-hosted base metal deposits are often associated with black shale and mafic volcanic units.  Because these lithologies are typically monotonous and unfossiliferous, stratigraphic correlations within and across prospective belts can be a major challenge.  This work will address these challenges in central Yukon and generate new lithogeochemical data to identify the chemostratigraphic traits and mineral fertility of black shale and volcanic basins in the Cassiar terrane.

Benefits to Canada:  This project will significantly advance and modernize the geological knowledge of Canada’s North, including the metallogeny of prospective rock units.

Alkaline volcanic-hosted (VMS) base metal deposits in the Cassiar terrane, Yukon

Proponent: Memorial University of Newfoundland
Project Leader: Dr. Luke Beranek
GEM region of interest: Cordillera
GEM priority theme(s): Metallogeny of northern Canada; Evolution of Canada’s northern sedimentary basins; Tectonothermal evolution of northern Canada; Crustal architecture of northern Canada

Background: Paleozoic volcanic and sedimentary basins in central Yukon have large mineral potential, however legacy work from the 1970-80s suggests the Pelly Mountain deposits are atypical to elsewhere in the Yukon and worldwide.  Understanding when, how and why these base metal deposits formed will provide new ideas on locating these deposits globally and will reduce the risk of exploration programs in the Yukon. 

Objectives:  This work will generate new data to constrain the metal sources, lithogeochemistry, crustal substrate, and tectonic significance of the alkaline VMS systems and will provide new ideas on the localization of alkaline VMS systems globally.  The main goals are to identify the stratigraphy, high-precision radiometric age, geochemical composition, and metal fertility of volcanic rocks associated with Zn-Pb deposits in the Pelly Mountains. 

Benefits to Canada:  This project will significantly advance and modernize the geological knowledge of Canada’s North, including the metallogeny of economically significant rock units.

Tectonothermal characterization of the Aishihik Lake Region, West-Central Yukon Territory

Proponent: Simon Fraser University
Project Leader: Dr. Dan Gibson
GEM region of interest: Cordillera
GEM priority theme(s): Metallogeny of northern Canada; Thermochronology and low temperature thermal history of northern Canada; Tectonothermal evolution of northern Canada; Crustal architecture of northern Canada

Background:  The Aishihik Lake Region, part of Yukon Territory, has been identified by NRCan and Yukon scientists as an area having excellent mineral potential; however, the lack of geological data in West-central Yukon has significantly curtailed exploration. This proposed work will attempt to unravel the complex crustal architecture and tectonothermal history of the Aishihik Lake area and assess the influence that Cordilleran tectonism had on preconditioning the crust for gold mineralization. 

Objectives:   To add critical information on the location of the main mineralized features, and help decrease the exploration risks in this area. This project fosters a network of Canadian research scientists involving student-led investigations, which will produce data bases and scientific reports and publications which will be incorporated into mineral exploration strategies and ultimately lead to new mineral discoveries in the Yukon.

Benefits to Canada: The project will add to the research capacity of GEM-2 in Canada's North where there is currently reconnaissance level geoscience knowledge, which is currently inadequate for land use decision-making by local communities and all levels of government. These data will help to advance the knowledge base of this region identified by GEM-2 as having excellent mineral potential.

Tectonometamorphic evolution of the Core Zone, South-East Churchill Province, Québec

Proponent: Université Laval
Project Leader: Dr. Carl Guilmette
GEM region of interest: Hudson-Ungava
GEM priority theme(s): Metallogeny of northern Canada; Tectonothermal evolution of northern Canada; Crustal architecture of northern Canada

Background: Until now, the New Quebec (NQO) and Torngat orogens (TO) in Nunavik were considered as two distinct belts separated by the Core Zone (CZ).  Recent data suggest that Proterozoic deformation and metamorphism are actually prevalent in eastern CZ, which would even imply that NQO, CZ and TO may represent a single large hot orogeny (LHO).

Objectives:  To assess the extent, intensity and timing of tectonometamorphism in CZ and test the hypothesis of a single Eastern Churchill orogeny.

Benefits to Canada:  The project will reconcile Labrador and Quebec geological knowledge in a unique and modern framework. It will also bring the Hudson-Ungava area to the attention of the scientific and industrial communities, through the research network developed between provinces (BC, QC) and toward Europe (France, Switzerland).

Basin analysis of late Paleozoic northern margin of Sverdrup basin

Proponent: University of Calgary
Project Leader: Dr. Benoit Beauchamp
GEM region of interest: Western Arctic
GEM priority theme(s): Evolution of Canada’s northern sedimentary basin

Background:  The Sverdrup Basin (off-shore of the Western Arctic) is one of Arctic Canada’s most promising areas with proven Oil and Gas reserves. This research will focus on key aspects of the 250 million year old sedimentary rocks that constitute the Sverdrup Basin and will help determine potential for Oil and Gas in this area. This Project will involve structural, stratigraphic and sedimentological subsurface (wells) and field (Axel Heiberg Island) studies by three students and a research associate along the Sverdrup Basin’s Northern margin. The team will integrate and analyze newly-acquired data through multi-disciplinary basin analysis.

Objectives:  This project involves structural, stratigraphic and sedimentologic subsurface (wells) and field (Axel Heiberg) studies along the Sverdrup Basin’s northern margin. The team will integrate and analyze newly-acquired data through multi-disciplinary basin analysis. It will produce a modern multi-faceted scientific synthesis of the Late Paleozoic succession and will provide a tectono-stratigraphic framework that will assist in evaluating the resource potential of the area.

Benefits to Canada: This research will contribute to understanding the origin of hydrocarbon and mineral accumulations in the Arctic, including the Polar continental shelf. It directly supports Canada’s Northern Strategy and GEM’s scientific priorities. It will increase our northern scientific capacity and could contribute to the northern economy (i.e. create jobs and a healthy community-level social fabric), break the North’s dependence on importing fuels, and provide tangible benefits for all Canadians.

Applications of Thermochronology to the Timescales of Mineralization (ATTOM): Dawson Range, YT

Proponent: University of Ottawa
Project Leader: Dr. David Schneider
GEM region of interest: Cordillera
GEM priority theme(s): Metallogeny of northern Canada; Thermochronology and low temperature thermal history of northern Canada; Crustal architecture of northern Canada

Background: The large-scale movement of heat and fluids during mountain building plays a key role in the distribution of ore deposits. It is often difficult to determine the timing and duration of fluid migration and its underlying driving mechanisms, especially in regions where much of the evidence has been obscured by later tectonism, removed by erosion, or covered by younger strata. Dating of large-scale low-temperature (<250°C) fluid flow has proven exceedingly difficult yet this is the temperature at which many metallic ore deposits are formed. Much of the age data from ore bodies rarely directly dates the deposition of the ore. In order to eliminate many hypotheses from consideration, the direct ages of key rocks associated with ore deposition must be known.

Objectives: This study aims at resolving the low-temperature history of Carboniferous through Jurassic intrusions spatially associated with polymetallic deposits across central Yukon of the Canadian Cordillera.  Determining the timing and timescale of the magmatic-hydrothermal activity will help identify crustal-scale controls on gold and base metal fertility.

Benefits to Canada: This work will increase Canada's capacity in advanced thermochronological methods and technologies that directly contribute to the development of integrated models of ore deposit geology. Exploration for, and development of, metallic ore deposits in Yukon have a positive economic impact on Canada and this region identified by GEM-2 as having excellent mineral potential. The time is ripe to capitalize on Yukon's New Gold Rush.

Multi-till stratigraphy to single till cover transition in NE Manitoba: implications for mineral exploration

Proponent: University of Waterloo
Project Leader: Dr. Martin Ross
GEM region of interest: Rae; Hudson-Ungava
GEM priority theme(s): Glacial history and drift prospecting of northern Canada

Background:  As glaciers moved slowly across the central part of Canada, erosion beneath them occurred; they scraped and tore away the rocks beneath them, including in some cases important mineral deposits. The glacial history of Northern Canada is important to understand as key minerals can be found in the sand and gravel deposits (technically known as till deposits, i.e. unsorted material deposited directly from a glacier) indicating the presence of mineralized zones.  This research will look at key aspects of the glacial history of North-East Manitoba, trying to reconcile the direction in which the glaciers developed, moved and receded. The project will produce maps, data bases and scientific publications which will be incorporated into mineral exploration strategies and ultimately lead to new mineral discoveries in Canada. 

Objectives:  To determine the effect of multiple glaciations on till deposition in northern Manitoba using till composition and character in a zone of transition from a multi-till to a single till stratigraphy, providing a robust analysis of till dispersal pattern of indicator minerals and geochemical pathfinders.

Benefits to Canada: New geoscience knowledge on the glacial history of northern Canada can attract exploration investments, a major aspect of Canada's economy, which can ultimately lead to new mineral discoveries in Canada.  As well, the project will provide a training environment for the next generation of geoscientists, which is critical to maintain Canada's leadership in natural resources.

Tectonic significance of the Nolan-Zemlak domain boundary, southwest Rae Province, SK

Proponent: University of Regina
Project Leader: Dr. Kathryn Bethune
GEM region of interest: Rae
GEM priority theme(s): Metallogeny of northern Canada; Tectonothermal evolution of northern Canada; Crustal architecture of northern Canada

Background:  This project will investigate the nature and origin of the Nolan-Zemlak geological boundary in Northern Saskatchewan. This boundary is thought to have been shaped by an ancient mountain-building event known as the Thelon orogeny; however, new evidence suggests that the boundary is in fact much older and originates from an earlier tectonic collision, the Arrowsmith orogeny. The project will provide ground-truthing to test the hypothesis that the boundary originates from the Arrowsmith orogen, and will examine the geological relationships across the break.

Objectives:  To characterize geologic relationships across the Nolan–Zemlak domain boundary which will enhance understanding of the tectonic development of the broader region.

Benefits to Canada:  The Rae Province is highly endowed in mineral resources but vast tracts of this mineral-rich entity have only been mapped at reconnaissance scale. This research will greatly improve knowledge of the crustal architecture/genesis of lithotectonic elements of the southwest Rae within a modern tectonic framework, enabling better evaluation of mineral potential and informed decisions on exploration/land-use.