Key Researcher(s):  Aeroquest Airborne Ltd., C. J. R. Hart, D. R. Heberlein, W. Jackaman

Project ID(s):  2013-TREK02, 2013-TREK03, 2013-TREK04, 2013-TREK05, 2013-TREK06, 2014-TREK04, 2015-TREK02

Key Research Organization(s):  Aeroquest Airborne Ltd., Heberlein Geoconsulting, Noble Exploration Services Ltd., University of British Columbia - MDRU

Project Location:  Northern Interior

Strategic Focus Area:  Minerals, Energy-Geothermal


Geoscience BC's $4 million multi-year, multi-disciplinary Targeting Resources for Exploration and Knowledge (TREK) project generated earth science information that stimulated mineral and geothermal exploration across 24,000 square kilometers in British Columbia's underexplored Interior Plateau.

The Need

BC’s Northern Interior Plateau region south of Vanderhoof and west of Quesnel is covered by a thick layer of glacial sediments and lava flows. This cover hides the complex geology of the area and potentially untapped mineral wealth and geothermal resources buried below.

When New Gold announced that they had identified mineral reserves of 8.2 million ounces of gold and 61 million ounces of silver in this area at the company’s Blackwater deposit in 2012, interest in the area was reinvigorated.

Inspired by the Blackwater discovery, Geoscience BC launched the TREK project in 2013 to apply the latest technology, innovation, and knowledge to generating reliable, large-scale, high-quality earth science information across the area. Since 2013, Geoscience BC has flown a new regional airborne geophysical survey and collected over 8,000 unique geochemical samples to help ‘see through’ the cover to the rocks below.

Project Goals

The TREK project:

  • Generated regional-scale, detailed, high-quality earth science data and information for BC’s underexplored northern interior plateau region
  • Provided a clearer understanding of the geology, mineral potential, and geothermal reserves buried in central BC
  • Applied advanced tools and technologies to collect reliable earth science data and interpret the geology of the TREK area
  • Directly stimulated on-the-ground activity to discover hidden mineral deposits in an area where several rich gold, silver, and copper deposits have already been discovered

Project Benefits

First Nations, communities, mineral explorers, and land managers need access to reliable earth science information to make informed land use and resource development decisions in the TREK area where mineral and geothermal potential is high.

Geoscience BC’s TREK project was initiated in 2013 to collect new, high-quality detailed data over a wide area using the latest tools and innovations because the geology of the area is hidden. The TREK project has produced reports, data, and interpretations to help mineral explorers identify targets, leading to the discovery of new mines and jobs for people in remote communities. These communities can also use geothermal information gathered to assess whether geothermal energy is an appropriate option for their  community, saving money on diesel and reducing carbon emissions by switching to a sustainable energy source.

Survey Area

The TREK project covers a 24,000 km2 area in BC’s Central Interior Plateau from Anahim Lake in the southwest, north and east towards Burns Lake, Vanderhoof and Williams Lake. New Gold’s proposed 8.2 million-ounce Blackwater gold mine is located in the middle of the area, about 160 kilometres southwest of Prince George.

How was the data collected?

Since 2013, Geoscience BC-supported researchers have generated and shared new information from numerous geochemistry, geophysics, geothermal and geology and integration studies.

  • The TREK project has seen some of the most intense regional-scale geochemical sampling in the province with four media being examined: stream sediments, till, lake sediments, and biogeochemical samples, such as bark and tree tops. Over 8,000 unique geochemical samples have been collected and analyzed over the TREK area since 2013.
  • An airborne magnetic survey was flown in late 2013 at a line spacing of 250 m — closer than previous surveys – and produced 103,839 line-km of new data.
  • Community-driven geothermal studies in the TREK are investigated the potential for geothermal resources near the community of Nazko.
  • A Geology and Integration project has compiled new geological maps and geophysical layers.


What was found?

The TREK project has generated a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, public geoscience dataset that is rarely found in this resource sector. Download the products below.

Highlight: Parlane Resource Corp. credited a geochemical sampling survey undertaken by The University of British Columbia’s Mineral Deposit Research Unit as part of the 2015 TREK field season with the 2016 discovery of pure copper on their Big Bear property on the Nechako Plateau, central BC. The project was then sold to New Gold for $2.5 million in July 2017.