2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM


HUDAK, George J., Department of Geology, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, 800 Algoma Boulevard, Oshkosh, WI 54901, MILLER Jr, James D., Department of Geological Sciences, University of Minnesota Duluth, 230 Heller Hall, Duluth, MN 55812, PETERSON, Dean M., Duluth Metals Limited, 306 W. Superior St, Duluth, MN 55802, GOODGE, John, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN 55812, WATTRUS, Nigel, Large Lakes Observatory, Univ of Minnesota, Duluth, 10 University Drive, 215 RLB, Duluth, MN 55812-2496, SEVERSON, Mark J., Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth, 5013 Miller Trunk Hwy, Duluth, MN 55811 and LARSON, Phil, Cliffs Natural Resources, PO Box 180, Eveleth, MN 55734, hudak@uwosh.edu

Proper identification and interpretation of lithologic, structural, geophysical, geochemical, and geomorphologic features in the field is essential to finding new mineral resources, many of which are covered by significant thicknesses of rock and/or overburden. A number of recent studies note the precipitous decline in field skills among new geoscientists, especially in the US. Because most geoscience students learn to map in sedimentary rock-dominated Cordilleran terranes, this decline is even more severe among field geologists working in Precambrian shield terranes, which contain a large proportion of the world’s mineral deposits .

The Precambrian Research Center (PRC) was established in 2007 to satisfy the urgent, long-term need within the private and public sectors of the geological community for geoscientists skilled in geological mapping and map-making in glaciated Precambrian terranes of the Canadian Shield. The central program of the PRC is a six-week long summer field course open to US and Canadian students. The camp involves numerous map-making projects that focus on field studies of a wide variety of metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary terranes in NE Minnesota. Many of these terranes host, or have the potential to host, magmatic-associated copper-nickel-platinum group element deposits, lode gold deposits, iron-formations, and volcanic-associated massive sulfide deposits. The final two week long “capstone” project involves one week of mapping in small teams (generally 3-4 students and one experienced faculty member) in remote wilderness areas. The capstone projects provide the student with the opportunity to map in areas which have never been mapped in detail – there is no key! The final week of camp is spent compiling the field data into geographic information systems and producing a professional quality geologic map utilizing several graphics programs.

To ensure continued success in locating and utilizing new natural resources, geoscientists must be well-trained in field and data management skills. Without these skills, the worthy goal of producing maps critical to the evaluating the potential for natural resources will not be possible.