THE PRECAMBRIAN RESEARCH CENTER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA DULUTH: TEACHING THE NEXT GENERATION OF ECONOMICALLY-ORIENTED FIELD GEOLOGISTS
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.