Field Trip 05A: Short Course and Field Trip

Field Trip 05B: Short Course only

Advances in Drift Prospecting for Kimberlite in Canada

Leaders: David Sacco (Principal, Surficial Geology and Exploration, Palmer)

Dave Sacco graduated from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada and is well known in the North American kimberlite exploration community for his specialization in the application of Quaternary geology to mineral exploration. He has 15 years’ experience in the industry and has spent over 10 years applying his trade to diamond exploration in Canada. Dave is a recognized authority in defining the glacial dispersion of kimberlite indicator minerals and identifying their kimberlite source through the development of customized drift prospecting strategies. He has published numerous surficial geology and sampling suitability maps and reports that showcase the utility of drift prospecting and provide the foundation to optimize diamond exploration programmes.

Dave’s recent emphasis on developing more reliable methods for exploring in complex surficial environments, where standard approaches can be ineffective, provides a crucial exploration tool for establishing reliable kimberlite targets and mitigating project risk. Dave has been a lead researcher for surficial exploration programmes supported by Geoscience BC, the British Columbia Geological Survey, the Alberta Geological Survey and the Northwest Territories Geological Survey. His comprehensive expertise has played a vital role in “30 Years of Diamonds in Canada” which is being celebrated at 12 IKC. During this event, Dave not only leads this field trip and short course, but also serves as the primary or co-author of six presentations in the Technical Programme. These presentations cover various aspects of the Evolution of Kimberlite Exploration, including Advances in Drift Prospecting in Canada’s North and Kimberlite Indicator Mineral Dispersion on the Kennady North Project, Southern Slave Craton, NWT.

Dates: The post-conference, half day short course will take place on the afternoon of Saturday 13 July 2024 and the field-based part will take place on Sunday 14 July 2024 (full day).

Duration: One and a half days.

Location: The short course will be in Yellowknife, with the associated field component taking place on the tundra in the Slave Geological Province. This trip will be in rugged terrain which requires sturdy boots and appropriate field gear.

Registration: The cost for FT05A including both the short course and field trip is $1,950 CAD, which includes a charter flight, lunch on Sunday and course notes. It does not include accommodations and transport to the float plane base. The cost of FT05B which includes only the short course will cost $175 CAD and does not include accommodations or transport. If the field trip is full at the time of registration, there will be an option to be added to a waiting list and you will be informed should spaces become available. See Field Trip Overview, Important Dates and Registration for more details.

Transport: Charter float plane from Air Tindi Latham Island Floatbase (probably a Twin Otter). Air Tindi is a Northern airline based in Yellowknife which is the only charter airline to have serviced the diamond industry throughout its ‘30 Years of Diamonds in Canada’ which 12 IKC is celebrating.

Accommodation: To be organised by delegate. The 12 IKC preferred room rates at the three hotels are available for the dates required to participate in FT05A and FT05B so bookings for the main conference can be extended. See Accommodation Page for more details.

Description: Join renowned experts for a deep dive into drift prospecting for kimberlite (and other commodities!) in Canada. Drift prospecting is the science of tracing surface sediments back to their bedrock source, which in Canada, requires a detailed understanding of glacial geomorphology and landscape evolution. The programme will include a half day short course followed by an optional one-day float plane trip visiting several key sites in the Slave Geological Province that typify the complexities of drift prospecting. This programme will showcase how an understanding of glacial, deglacial and post-glacial processes can help advance grassroots and brownfield programmes and develop reliable exploration targets.

The short course will provide a foundational understanding of glacial processes and how sediments are created and distributed throughout the landscape by tracing the path from mechanical erosion and glacial entrainment, through primary deposition of till, and subsequent modification and remobilization by deglacial meltwater processes. The effects of these processes on the sediment composition, and ultimately indicator mineral and geochemical concentrations will be demonstrated through a series of case studies. We will discuss how these landforms are identified remotely, and finally, how this information can be used to design and execute successful drift prospecting programmes and evaluate the resulting data within the appropriate glacial context to generate exploration targets.

Participants who elect to go on the field component will have the opportunity to apply the information from the short course and get the experience of drift prospecting in Canada’s remote and scenic Slave Geological Province. After a reconnaissance flight over the tundra, they will be exposed to different surficial landscapes and sampling media and discuss how the various depositional environments influence the way samples are collected. Digital maps will be provided on handheld GPS-enabled devices and participants will learn how to navigate in the field, interpret the map data and use those interpretations to find the optimal material and locations for sampling. We will also visit areas that are not well-suited to standard drift prospecting approaches and demonstrate how successful programmes can still be achieved in landscapes affected by subglacial meltwater corridors and glacial lakes. We will investigate the landforms and sediments created by these processes, discuss how sediment genesis can be interpreted based on landform context and sedimentological characterization, and differentiate which sediments and landforms in these meltwater-affected areas can still yield useful data from those that can mislead exploration efforts. We will also reconstruct glacial ice-flow and sediment transport histories based on critical examination of sub-glacially sculpted landforms and small features etched into bedrock.

Participants will come away from the field trip with a strong appreciation for the complexities of the surficial environment and how prior knowledge of these complexities is integral to the design of effective drift prospecting programmes and the interpretation of the resulting data. While focused on diamond exploration, the information provided is transferable to exploration for all commodities, including precious and critical metals, lithium, and uranium.

Top Left – Aerial view of a meltwater corridor in the Slave Geological Province. Top Right – Glacial striations in outcrop.

Bottom – Ground view of an esker armoured with boulders from wave-washing in a glacial lake.

Close-up image of subglacial till, the optimal media for drift prospecting.
An example of detailed surficial geology mapping, which is used to inform drift prospecting programmes.
Glacial and Post-Glacial features visible in modern landforms
Kimberlite indicator mineral (kim’s) dispersal trains in a complex surficial geological environment.