Exploration and Geological Field Methods – It Rocks!

It can often be difficult to visualize the materials taught in a classroom setting, that’s when field-based study comes in handy. Field-based study provide the opportunities to

  • present materials and structures that are otherwise not accessible
  • Practice unique skills and techniques that cannot be carried elsewhere
  • Reinforce previously taught classroom materials

Lonergan & Andresen (1988)

BCIT’s Mineral Exploration and Mining Engineering program provides exactly that with our 7 day field study in Oliver, BC. Exploration and Geological Field Methods is taught in a camp setting where it focus on geological interpretation, prospecting techniques and mapping.

Hiking through the White Lake Basin area in South Okanagan

The first few days were spent learning new exploration methods as well as reviewing field skills taught in previous classes. We observed a variety of rock units and structures such as high-grade metamorphic schist, gneiss, sedimentary rocks with fossils, folding, faulting and so much more. While we have seen these structures and rocks in class, seeing it in its original geological setting really puts it in perspective as to how the rocks came to be. We also had the chance to set up our own geophysical survey, water samples and analyze geochemical data with the help of our instructors as they are just as important in the interpretation of economic mineral deposits.

Sandstone sample with fossil imprints of leaves and wood
Learning about the regional geology

Lastly, we were tasked with a 3-day final project where we had to use everything we learned to identify a potential mineral deposit and try to sell it. This project was rather difficult because I could didn’t find a lot (if any) economical minerals from the surface outcrops so we had to interpret a good chunk of the rock units underneath.

In conclusion, while this field trip was challenging at times, it shows the reality of what mineral exploration is like instead of the simplistic theories taught in a class room setting. The fact that this course was able to incorporate aspects from previously taught classes will definitely reinforce the fundamental concepts. The harsh conditions and weather really makes me admire all the work and analysis that goes into a real exploration project and adds more meaning to “striking gold”.

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