BC’s Northern Interior Plateau region south of Vanderhoof and west of Quesnel is covered by a thick layer of glacial sediments and volcanic rocks. This layer hides the complex bedrock units below and any valuable mineral deposits they may contain. Geoscience BC launched the TREK (Targeting Resources for Exploration and Knowledge) project in 2013 to apply the latest technology, innovation, and knowledge to generate reliable, large-scale, high-quality earth science information across the area.
The Advanced processing of the TREK Project geochemical data project contributes to this goal by testing an innovative method of statistical analysis of geochemical data. The multi-step method incorporates information about the surficial and bedrock environments into the analysis process. The result is more reliable, lowering the risk for explorers and reducing the land use footprint of exploration in the area.
This project takes the vast TREK geochemical data set — composed of reanalyzed till and lake sediment samples from existing collections and new data generated from samples collected in the last five years – to create a high quality, comparable data set for the region. The project then developed and tested a series of analytical steps to confidently identify low-risk exploration targets in regional surface sediment datasets. Specifically, these methods were designed for areas like TREK, where thick surface sediments and lava flows obscure the complex geology and mineralization.
- Standardizing the TREK geochemical data to improve its suitability for evaluation (i.e. sorting through a wide variety of data types from a mix of sources and in different formats to make sure the statistical analysis is “comparing apples to apples”)
- Modelling glacial transport of sediment to identify bedrock sources for samples, and assessing the influence of different bedrock on geochemistry;
- Determining the geochemical signature of common mineral deposit types; and
- Enhancing geochemical anomalies related to specific deposit types by looking for a mineral deposit-specific geochemical signature in the sediment samples.
This project uses the latest data analysis, evaluation and modelling tools and technology to enhance the geochemical signal of mineralization in the area using till and lake sediments. Till and lake sediments are widely available at the surface and accessible with hand tools but may have moved away from their source, either bulldozed by glaciers or carried by rivers.
By mitigating the influence of bedrock on the geochemical data set, anomalies within the data can be more confidently attributed to potential mineralization. Also, by looking at a number of elements and comparing and contrasting them against each other increases confidence in target identification and gives explorers lower-risk targets to pursue. As a result, exploration activities, such as drilling or trenching, can be focused on a smaller area, reducing the land use footprint of the project. First Nations, communities, mineral explorers, and land managers need access to reliable earth science information like this to make informed land use and resource development decisions in the TREK area where mineral and geothermal potential is high.
The TREK project covers a 28,000 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. See TREK project page for more information.
How was data collected?
Since 2013, the project team have been working on various Geoscience BC-supported projects to collected new samples and re-examine previously-collected samples of till and lake sediments to create one of the largest, best quality, and directly-comparable surficial geochemistry datasets in North America.
This study relies on a variety of data types from a number of sources. Many of these input datasets are the result of previous Geoscience BC projects and/or in partnership with the British Columbia Geological Survey (BCGS), including;
TREK till geochemical database
TREK lake sediment geochemical database
Other important datasets used in this project, including ice-flow data and digital elevation and hydrology data, were sourced from BCGS, BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and NASA.
What was found?
The Advanced processing of the TREK Project geochemical data project set out to evaluate a high-quality geochemical data set within the specific geological context of the region. Using the latest data analysis, evaluation and modelling tools and technology, the project enhanced the geochemical signal of mineralization across the region.
The project identified nearly 100 geochemical anomalies. Many of these anomalies have identified sources and were used to verify the efficacy of the methods. Nearly half of the anomalies do not have identified sources suggesting that the region has significant potential for undiscovered copper, gold, silver and molybdenum deposits.