Photostory #397: Canada's Geologists Using Modern Technique on Regional Scale: Science of Geochemistry Points Way to Riches
National Film Board of Canada
August 24, 1965
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
Using the ultra-modern technique of new regional geochemical investigations, Canada's geologists are busy pinpointing the nation's probable sources of future mineral wealth with a clarity never before so graphically clear. Basic idea behind the method is the fact that hidden ore bodies diffuse and disperse minute traces of their elements across the face of the surrounding countryside. By sampling small pieces of surface material collected at many points over a wide area and testing the strength or amount of their metal content, geologists can produce an overall picture with the high and low mineral-content areas sharply defined. Maps produced by this method are as distinct as the population charts in a school atlas. One of the present geochemical surveys is underway in northern New Brunswick. Here, a 12-man Geological Survey of Canada field party is spending the summer traversing the province's scenic beauty while testing samples of the waters and sediments in the wilderness streams. Living in tents and special trailer units, which are also travelling chemical laboratories, the geologists remain mobile in order to complete the season's target of 1,000 square miles of territory examined. Traces of minerals found in stream-bed samples give strong indication of the element content of the surface materials in the area drained by that particular stream. This in turn indicates any above-average concentrations in nearby sub-surface rocks. Other surface samples studied for mineral content in geochemical surveying are plants, trees and soils, all of which tend to accumulate higher metal contents when in the vicinity of rich ore bodies. Canada's advanced methods of geochemical exploration, combined with other geological knowledge, will be a vital factor in the discovery of additional mineral wealth to ensure the country's future economic prosperity.