string(10) "[Minerals]"

Halogens in Spruce Treetops and Integration with Existing Multi-Element Data – Blackwater and TREK Regions (NTS 083C,F)

Lead Researcher(s):  C. E. Dunn

Key Researcher(s):  D. R. Heberlein

Project ID:  2018-031

Key Research Organization(s):  Colin Dunn Consulting Inc.

Project Location:  Central Interior

Strategic Focus Area:  Minerals


This project developed a new analytical method to analyze for the halogen elements (fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine) and was used with spruce tree top samples collected during Geoscience BC’s 2015 TREK regional biogeochemical survey over a 1,000 km2 area approximately 120 km southwest of Vanderhoof.

More information about the TREK project can be found here.

Other biogeochemical research projects Geoscience BC has supported include:

The Need

BC’s Northern Interior Plateau area southwest of Vanderhoof and west of Quesnel is covered by a thick cover of glacial sediments and volcanic rock. This cover hides the complex geology of the area, and the potentially untapped mineral and geothermal resources buried below. Geoscience BC launched the TREK project in 2013 to develop geophysical and geochemical tools to help ‘see through’ the thick cover.

Previous research shows that halogen elements play an important role in the mobilization and transport of metals in ore forming systems and can create detectable anomalies on the surface that may indicate covered mineralization. By analyzing the halogen elements of archived spruce tree top samples from the 2015 TREK program and plotting them on a map, researchers on this project have developed new tools to help mineral explorers and others see through the cover in this part of BC and at other similar landscapes across Canada and the world.

Project Goals

This project fits under Geoscience BC’s Strategic Objective of ‘Advancing Science & Innovative Technologies’ and our goal to:

  • Increase research and development of innovative exploration and mining methods, tools, approaches and geoscience technologies

Specifically, this project:

Project Benefits

The resource sectors, academia, communities, Indigenous groups and government need access to reliable public earth science information to make informed decisions in the project area, where mineral potential is high. 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.

This project will help focus mineral exploration activity in the area by creating the first database of halogen elements in spruce trees and by demonstrating how the halogen analytical and sampling techniques could be applied to other areas throughout the Province. It also adds value to an existing Geoscience BC dataset by using archived samples before they would be discarded.

Survey Area

The TREK tree-top sampling program covered a 1,000 km2 area within the larger TREK project, just south of the Blackwater gold district. It was completed in 2015.

The larger TREK project covers a 28,000 km2 area in BC’s Central Interior Plateau from Anahim Lake in the south west to Burns Lake, Vanderhoof and Williams Lake in the north and east. New Gold’s proposed 8.2 million-ounce Blackwater gold mine is in the middle of the project area, about 160 kilometres southwest of Prince George. The field components of the TREK project, which included an airborne magnetic survey, biogeochemical studies and surficial geology and geochemical initiatives, were undertaken between 2013 and 2015.


The researchers took the surplus portion of ashed spruce needles collected during the Geoscience BC-sponsored TREK regional biogeochemical survey in 2015 and utilized a new method developed by ALS-Geochemistry to analyze for four halogen elements (fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine).

Researchers’ analysis of the data generated by this process, and combined with results obtained on related projects, found that the presence of certain halogen elements in the samples provided indicators of potential for mineral deposits.