Vancouver Island North Regional Project

Key Researcher(s):  To be announced

Project ID:  2018-055

Key Research Organization(s):  To be announced

Project Location:  northern Vancouver Island, between Campbell River, Port McNeill, Port Alice and Zeballos

Strategic Focus Area:  Minerals


This project is generating valuable new earth science information for an area on northern Vancouver Island by flying an airborne geophysical survey and using the collected data to update geological maps. The new information can then be used to assess the mineral potential of the area and to guide more informed decisions about potential mineral resource development on northern Vancouver Island. Results from the Vancouver Island North project will be published in January 2020 at the AME Roundup conference in Vancouver.

Project Open House Meeting

Join us on September 11, 2019 from 5:00 pm. to 6:30 pm. at the Campbell River Community Centre - Multipurpose Room 1, 401 11 Avenue, Campbell River to learn more about the Vancouver Island North Regional Project and to answer any questions you may have.

To RSVP for the Open House, please register here.


The Need

Vancouver Island has a long history of mining and mineral exploration, but some areas remain relatively under-explored or have not been actively explored for many years. This project will cover an area at the north end of the island where packages of rocks known to host mineralization in nearby areas occur. Similar projects, such as Geoscience BC’s adjacent Northern Vancouver Island (NVI) project undertaken in 2012-2013 in partnership with the Island Coastal Economic Trust, have sparked exploration, discovery and new economic activity in similar under-explored areas.

Up-to-date, unbiased earth science information is essential to inform decisions relating to the development of BC’s mineral resources. Long-term demand for the metals and minerals that might be uncovered in this area is growing because they are important in the production of renewable energy, batteries and our everyday electronic devices.


Project Goals

This project will:

  • Produce new research using the latest methods to update geological maps;
  • Identify regional geological and structural mineral exploration targets;
  • Provide economic stimulation; and
  • Engage communities, share information, and identify potential training opportunities.

Project Benefits

The new geoscience information generated by this project may spark a new wave of mineral exploration activity in this region of BC. The information generated by this project will help the exploration sector, communities, Indigenous groups and governments to make informed decisions about responsible natural resource development.

Survey Area

As the map above shows, the airborne geophysical survey will cover a 6,127 square kilometre area stretching from Port McNeill in the north to Tahsis in the south, covering portions of the Regional Districts of Strathcona and Mount Waddington. It will not fly over Woss Lake, Nimpkish Lake or Schoen Lake Provincial Parks.

How will the data be collected and used?

The project was announced in March 2019. Following requests for feedback from the mineral development sector, community leaders and Indigenous groups, work started in July 2019.

The airborne geophysical survey is collecting collect information about the magnetic properties of the rocks below the ground and the radiometric properties of rocks and soils near the surface.

Precision GeoSurveys, the contractor selected to fly the airborne geophysical survey, began flying one helicopter over the survey area during the week of July 29th, 2019 from Port McNeill and from Woss. The helicopter is easily identified by three ‘booms’ containing magnetic sensors – one on each side and one at the front. It will be flying along lines spaced 250 metres apart and at a constant height of 80 metres but will rise to 300 metres over communities. It will not fly over larger parks. Weather permitting, the flights are expected to be complete by September 30th, 2019.

The magnetic survey will map out the rock units below the surface that contain magnetic minerals, mostly magnetite, but also the iron oxide minerals hematite, maghemite, limonite, and some sulphide minerals such as pyrrhotite. These minerals disrupt the Earth’s magnetic field, and the magnetometer connected to the survey helicopter measures these subtle variations in the Earth’s magnetic field.

After this magnetic data is collected and processed, the shapes of these magnetic rock units can help geologists understand the structure of the rocks several kilometers below and identify areas that are worthy of further investigation.

The radiometric survey will map the distribution of naturally occurring radiometric isotopes in rocks and soils within about 30 centimeters of the Earth’s surface. As potassium, uranium and thorium naturally decay, they release gamma rays with characteristic energy signatures that the survey equipment attached to the helicopter detects.

Once processed, the results of the radiometric survey can be used to update geological maps and, in some cases, may be used to directly detect mineral deposits.

Photo Credit: Harmen Keyser, Precision GeoSurveys

Photo Credit: Harmen Keyser, Precision GeoSurveys