Central Interior Copper-Gold Research: Surficial Exploration Project

Lead Researcher(s):  W. Jackaman; D. Sacco

Project ID:  2018-050

Key Research Organization(s):  Noble Exploration Services Ltd.; Palmer Environmental Consulting Group Inc.

Project Location:  Central Interior

Strategic Focus Area:  Minerals


This project is generating new surficial geology maps in an area between the Mount Milligan (Mackenzie) and Gibraltar (Williams Lake) and Mount Polley (Quesnel) mines to provide the glacial framework necessary to interpret till geochemical and mineralogical anomalies and trace them back to their bedrock source. The maps will inform a new till sampling survey in underexplored areas and when combined with the reanalysis of archived historical till samples and the glacial framework, will provide the high-quality baseline data necessary to identify areas of mineral exploration interest.

This project is part of the Central Interior Copper-Gold Research (CICGR) series of research projects.

View CICGR overview page

Research Statement

The Quesnel terrane is a distinct package of rocks that runs roughly northwest-southeast across BC and hosts significant copper-gold deposits. In much of the CICGR series area, the Quesnel terrane is buried under thick glacial deposits, including till. With the Mount Milligan copper-gold mine to the north and the Gibraltar and Mount Polley copper-gold mine to the south, it is believed that similar mineral deposits may be hidden below the thick glacial deposits between these mines.

This project is using new surficial geology mapping based on aerial photograph interpretations to provide new till geochemical and mineralogical data that can be used to help ‘see through’ the glacial deposits and improve understanding of the rocks below and their potential to host copper-gold deposits.


Glacial drift is composed of various sediment layers deposited during glaciation. Subglacial till, one component of glacial drift, is the unsorted sand, clay and gravel sediments deposited under a glacier and can be used to guide mineral exploration. Till occurs throughout BC and can range from a few centimetres to hundreds of metres thick. For till to be used as an exploration tool, it is necessary to understand its characteristics, including transport directions, thickness, distribution and geochemical and mineralogical composition.


This project fits under Geoscience BC’s Strategic Objective of ‘Identifying New Natural Resource Opportunities’ and our goal to:

  • Continue regional-scale surveys that deliver large data sets in support of identifying prospective targets and increasing discovery rates of deposits

This project is part of the CICGR series and is:

  • Generating surficial geology, till sample suitability and drift thickness map sets:
    • These will identify the distribution and characteristics of surficial sediments and associated sediment transport directions. The map sets will be used to identify the most suitable locations for till sampling in later stages of this project and will be a guide for follow-up mineral exploration.
  • Re-analyzing up to 1,750 previously collected till samples:
  • Collecting new till samples and adding to provincial archive:
    • New till geochemical and mineralogical data will be added to the provincial database, increasing the sample density where it is currently low and providing new data in prospective areas where none currently exists.
  • Creating new reports and presentations:
    • This project will generate map sets and spatial data packages for surficial geology and derivative mapping along with new and updated till geochemical and mineralogical data packages.
  • Training junior mappers and samplers:
    • The next generation of explorers will be trained in glacial drift prospecting methods including surficial geology interpretations and till sampling.


The maps, reports and database of till geochemical and mineralogical concentrations from this project will provide a better understanding of the geology and mineral potential of BC’s Central Interior. This will help to inform decisions relating to mineral exploration and to attract new investment to the area.

Location Details

This project covers around 9,000 km2 of BC’s Central Interior in areas around Fort St James, Mackenzie, Prince George, Quesnel, Vanderhoof and Williams Lake.

View Project Area in Earth Science Viewer