As Nova Scotia companies revisit historic mining sites to drill for gold that was formed here more than 300 million years ago, new technologies will have far-reaching implications for mineral exploration, both in and beyond Nova Scotia.
“Modern equipment has the potential to make it easier to predict where gold will be found, says Dr. Jacob Hanley, a Geology professor at Saint Mary’s University.” It can also eliminate some of the guesswork in offshore drilling for oil and gas.”
In 2014, Dr. Hanley received combined funding of roughly $240,000 from the Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust (NSRIT) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to purchase a laser Raman microscope for his Mineral Resources Lab at Saint Mary’s University. Additional funds for the microscope came from private sector partners.
“Previous NSRIT funding provided equipment that lets us characterize liquid-like inclusions in rock that represent trapped samples of ancient fluids that were responsible for depositing valuable metals in the Earth’s crust,” explains Dr. Hanley. “By using laser Raman spectroscopy, we’ll be able to look at the composition of gas and vapour-like inclusions as well, greatly extending the range of mineral resource types we can study.”
Dr. Hanley’s primary goal for his lab’s new equipment is to train students in innovative methods of mineral exploration. “It will also attract interest from industry,” he says, “and improve the quality of the their exploration toolbox.”