Geochemical and Mineralogical Controls on Metal Dispersal Downstream of Mineralization in the Mackenzie Mountains, Canada

Regions: Sahtu Settlement Area, Dehcho Region

Tags: physical sciences, geology, geochemistry, petrology, rock, metals

Principal Investigator: Skeries, Kristina A (1)
Licence Number: 14896
Organization: Queen's University
Licenced Year(s): 2011
Issued: Apr 13, 2011
Project Team: Dr. Heather Jamieson (Supervisor, Queen's University), Hendrik Falck (NTGO Geologist, Northwest Territories Geoscience Office - Geological Survey of Canada)

Objective(s): To understand how metals might be weathering from rocks, and to understand where they end up and in which chemical form (the speciation).

Project Description: The objective of this research project is to understand how metals might be weathering from rocks, and to understand where they end up and in which chemical form (the speciation). The importance is to differentiate between the metal species that weather from the rocks, the species by which they are transported, and finally, the species by which they are deposited again, if they are in fact deposited. This gives us the ability to determine the fate of the metals weathering off the rocks, which has implications for the environment, human health, and further exploration efforts.

Water samples, rock samples, and soil samples will be collected over the span of two months in the summer of 2011. Some wells will need to be installed to take water samples from groundwater, but the stream water will be collected in bottles by hand. Certain characteristics of water (pH, temperature, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen content) will be analyzed in the field, using a small meter, for immediate results. The water samples will then be transported back to the base camp where they will be filtered, and their chemical state preserved using a small amount of weak acid. Soil samples will be taken directly from the ground or from the stream bed and stored in bags. Rock samples may be chipped off of outcrops using a geological hammer, and they will be stored in bags as well. Some samples of water, soil, and rock, will be transported back to Queen's University, where they will be analyzed to determine their chemical speciation using specialized analytical equipment.

This sampling will likely be conducted with community members to help with sample collection.

This project will be conducted in partnership with the Northwest Territories Geoscience Office. Community visits are ongoing, and discussions will occur with the Land Corporations, Resource councils and Band councils with regards to the results of the studies. There will also be presentations at local schools. A thesis report will also be available to the public and the project may be presented at conferences where appropriate.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from June 1, 2011 to July 31, 2011.