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Ore Deposits and Mineral Exploration

Research on a wide variety of ore deposit types and mineral exploration methodology forms a core component of many of the research programs in the Harquail School of Earth Sciences. Our faculty and student researchers are conducting research globally on problems of relevance to the mineral exploration industry.

Ore deposit geology is the study of how mineral deposits form, which provide the necessary raw materials, such as Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn and the rare metals (Ta, Nb, REEs), for the past and continued development of our modern societies. Mineral deposits have formed in a variety of settings throughout Earth history which reflect in part the different conditions under which the ore minerals form. Thus, ore deposits are therefore grouped into deposit types which reflect their setting and host rocks. Simple examples include magmatic Fe-Ti-Ni-Cr-PGE deposits hosted by mafic rocks, Fe oxide ores which formed as chemical precipitate in sedimentary environments, deposits associated with volcanic centres of either submarine (i.e., massive sulphide ores of Cu-Zn-Pb-Au-Ag) or subaerial (i.e., epithermal ores rich in Au-Ag), settings, and vein and replacement ore deposits either related to intrusive centres (e.g., porphyry and skarn deposits) or independent of such an association (e.g., carbonate replacement deposits or MVT deposits and orogenic Au deposits). By studying the geological setting and conditions by which deposits formed, a better understanding of relevant processes are appreciated. The latter information is used to define ore- deposit models, which is the basis of mineral deposit exploration.

The time-space distribution of ore deposits and relationship to large-scale geological processes (e.g., plate tectonics), Earth’s secular evolution, and development of the atmosphere and hydrosphere are all relevant to ore deposit geology. Collectively these aspects of ore deposits are studied under metallogeny. An excellent example of this is the apparent abundance of large porphyry-type Cu±-Au deposits spatially associated with magmatic arc settings in the late Phanerozoic rock record versus older rocks – what is the reason for this and how is it relevant to exploration.

All of the ore deposit types mentioned above and more are the topics of much of the core research in the Harquail School of Earth Sciences by the faculty and student researchers that include undergraduates, graduates and post-doctoral scientists.



  • Harold L. Gibson
    Harold L. Gibson
    Director of Metal Earth

    Since joining Laurentian University in 1990, after leaving a successful 12-year career in the mining exploration industry, my students and I have undertaken research projects across Canada, globally, and the modern seafloor. The long-term objective of my research is to determine and understand the interrelationships between magmatism, volcanism, tectonics, and the paleohydrology and timing of volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) ore systems during the construction and evolution of submarine volcanoes through time.

  • Pedro J. Jugo
    Pedro J. Jugo
    Associate Professor, Igneous Petrology, PhD program coordinator

    Pedro Jugo has been a professor at Laurentian University since July 2006. His expertise is in igneous and experimental petrology. Pedro’s main interest is to understand the processes involved in the genesis of ore deposits and use that knowledge to develop tools that assist in finding new ore deposits.

  • Daniel J. Kontak
    Daniel J. Kontak
    Professor, Ore Deposit Geology

    My research program aims to fully characterize a variety of magmatic and hydrothermal ore systems using both traditional and novel approaches. This work incorporates field studies supported by a large range of follow-up geochronologic (Re-Os, Ar-Ar, TIMS and LA U-Pb), petrologic and mineral-fluid chemical work that utilizes state-of-the-art analytical facilities at Laurentian and collaborating institutions. The work is financed through a wide variety of granting agencies that include the Federal Government (NSERC DG and CRD grants), Geological Survey of Canada, provincial surveys and many exploration and mining companies.

  • Bruno Lafrance
    Bruno Lafrance
    Associate Director Metal Earth, Professor, Structural Geology

    Dr. Lafrance's research and that of his students focus on understanding deposit scale to camp scale deformation processes involved in the genesis and subsequent deformation of ore deposits and their host rocks.

  • C. Michael Lesher
    C. Michael Lesher
    University Research Chair in Mineral Exploration, Professor of Economic Geology

    Economic geology professor at Laurentian University since 1997, I am currently Principal Investigator and Director of the $13M NSERC-CMIC funded pan-Canadian "Integrated Multi-Parameter Footprints of Ore Systems" project, and Co-Principal Investigator of the $104M CFREF-FedNor-NOHFC funded "Metal Earth" project. Other research focusses on the genesis of the Sudbury Igneous Complex and associated Ni-Cu-PGE mineralization, the Jinchuan intrusion and associated Ni-Cu-PGE mineralization in China, and the Black Thor Igneous Complex and associated Cr mineralization in the McFaulds Lake Greenstone Belt ("Ring of Fire" area) of northern Ontario.

  • Andrew M. McDonald
    Andrew M. McDonald
    Professor, Mineralogy

    My research is directed at using mineralogy as a tool in the geosciences. Although I still conduct investigations/characterizations of new mineral species, I am also interested in applying mineralogy and crystal chemistry as a means of understanding the evolution of alkaline rocks, exploring for Au and rare metals (e.g. Ta, Nb) and understanding how the atomic structures of minerals relate to their observed physical and optical properties.

  • Mostafa Naghizadeh
    Mostafa Naghizadeh
    Assistant Professor, Seismic Geophysics

    Mostafa Naghizadeh Joined HES in September 2017 as an Assistant Professor of Geophysics with specialization in Exploration Seismology after five years of industry experience in seismic data processing. His research focuses on seismic data processing method, inverse problems, computational geophysics, and seismic applications for mineral exploration.

  • Jeremy P. Richards
    Jeremy P. Richards
    Canada Research Chair in Metallogeny

    Jeremy Richards joined Laurentian University in 2017. His research focuses on regional tectonomagmatic controls on the formation of ore deposits, with a current emphasis on porphyry copper and epithermal gold deposits in the Middle East to China, and North and South America. He also has a research interest in the socioeconomic impacts of mining on local communities and nations.

  • Ross Sherlock
    Ross Sherlock
    MERC Director, Incoming Director for Metal Earth

    Ross joined HES in August 2017 as a Chair in Exploration Targeting and the Director of MERC. Ross is a professional geologist with over 28 years of experience in the mining industry and academic research. His career has spanned junior and senior mining companies, consulting and government surveys working nationally and internationally. Most recently Ross was Vice President, Geoscience at Kinross Gold Corp. and Exploration Manager, North America at Gold Fields.

  • Richard S. Smith
    Richard Smith
    Industrial Research Chair in Exploration Geophysics, Professor

    Richard Smith joined Laurentian after spending 20 years working in the exploration business. He has extensive experience working as a research scientist, an exploration geophysicist and a manager. He has international experience in the application of geophysics to lead-zinc exploration, hydrocarbon exploration and environmental issues. Richard is most familiar with electromagnetics, magnetics, induced polarization and gravity; his main research interests are in the application of these geophysical methods to the discovery of mineral deposits, hydrocarbon and water resources.

  • Douglas K. Tinkham
    Douglas K. Tinkham
    Director, Harquail School of Earth Sciences

    Dr. Tinkham arrived at Laurentian in 2005. His research is in the broad field of metamorphic geology, where he specializes in the application of thermodynamic calculations to investigate metamorphic processes and the pressure-temperature-composition evolution of rocks during metamorphism. This work is applied to rocks to decipher zoning and modification of metamorphosed hydrothermal alteration zones associated with ore deposits, metal mobility during metamorphism, partial melting of high-grade metamorphic rocks, and orogenic processes.

  • Elizabeth C. Turner

    Dr Turner is a field-based geologist with 30 years of research experience in remote parts of Canada's northern territories. Specialisation in dynamics of Proterozoic and Paleozoic carbonate and shale basins, including the information they encode about Earth's deep-time geochemical, tectonic, and paleobiological evolution, and their ore-deposit potential.

  • Perrouty
    Stéphane Perrouty
    Assistant Professor

    Joining Laurentian University in January 2018 as assistant professor of Precambrian Geology, Stephane's multidisciplinary research involves structural geology, mineralogy, lithogeochemistry, applied geophysics, and three-dimensional modeling to understand tectonic processes associated with Precambrian ore deposits. Field geology is a key component of his research and he is currently participating to large collaborative projects in Canada and West-Africa. Starting in Winter 2018, he is teaching the course GEOL 4016 titled Precambrian Geology.

  • Feltrin
    Leonardo Feltrin
    Associate Professor

    Dr. Feltrin has recently joined HES at Laurentian University (January 2018) as Associate Professor of Earth Systems Modelling. His research considers the use of computational geoscience, AI and modern data analytics to increase the chance of discovery of ore deposits and improve the understanding of factors controlling mineral resources location in the Earth's crust. Applied research focuses on GIS-based mineral prospectivity mapping, data analytics, robotics and Earth systems 3D reconstructions and simulations. Starting in Winter 2018, he will be teaching the course GEOL 3056 titled Computer Applications in the Earth Sciences.



Post Doctoral Fellows



PhD Candidates

  • Luke Bickerton
    Luke Bickerton
    PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology

    FROM: Antigonish, Nova Scotia GRADUATED FROM: St. Francis Xavier University (BSc), Simon Fraser University (MSc) SPECIALITIES: Economic Geology, Structural Geology CURRENT RESEARCH: Geological and Geochemical Characterization of the Granite-hosted East Kemptville Sn-Cu-Zn-Ag(-In) deposit, Nova Scotia SUPERVISOR: Dr. Daniel Kontak

  • Heather Carson
    Heather Carson
    PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology

    FROM: Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England GRADUATED FROM: University of Leicester (MGeol), SPECIALITIES: Magmatic Ore Deposits CURRENT RESEARCH: Stratigraphy, Geochemistry, and Petrogenesis of the Black Thor Intrusive Complex and Associated Cr and Ni-Cu-PGE Mineralization, McFaulds Greenstone Belt, Ontario FUNDED BY: Cliffs Natural Resources SUPERVISORS: Dr. Michael Lesher / Dr. Michel Houlé

  • Evan Hastie
    Evan Hastie
    PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology

    FROM: Hanover, Ontario GRADUATED FROM: University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario (BSc and MSc) CURRENT RESEARCH: Gold Metallogeny of the Southern Swayze Greenstone Belt, Abitibi Subprovince SUPERVISORS: Dr. Bruno Lafrance / Dr. Daniel Kontak

  • Rebecca Hunter
    Rebecca Hunter
    PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology

    Geological and structural investigation of the Aberdeen Lake area and its association with high-grade, unconformity-related uranium mineralization, northeast Thelon Basin region, central Rae Domain, Nunavut
    Supervisor: Bruno Lafrance

  • Mitchell Kerr
    Mitchell Kerr
    PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology

  • Michael Langa
    Michael Langa
    PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology

    PhD candidate working on chromitite-hosted PGE-Ni-Cu mineralization, Bushveld Igneous Complex, South Africa.

  • Yiguan Lu
    Yiguan Lu
    PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology (Joint PhD program)

  • Francisca Maepa
    Francisca Maepa
    PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology

    The purpose of my project is to find regions that are favorable for mineral deposits by employing data integration, machine learning techniques and, geo-statistics. This project will test these methods initially on the Swayze Greenstone Belt (SGB) and then attempt to apply the methods more generally to the Abitibi subprovince. The SGB is an extension of the mineral prolific Abitibi Greenstone Belt (AGB), and although there is known gold mineralization in the Swayze, it is not as mineral endowed as other parts of the AGB. The project also seeks to understand the effect of incorporating high-resolution geophysical datasets, and how geophysics affects predictive mineral mapping results. The study will help to determine the optimum data to use in both greenfield and brownfield exploration, as understanding which datasets to collect at the early stages of exploration is essential.

  • Eric Roots
    Eric Roots
    PhD Candidate Geology

    I am studying magnetotelluric (MT) data and inversion with Dr. Richard Smith. I am interested in developing new methodologies which allow MT data to be inverted and interpreted alongside with co-located geological and geophysical data.

  • Kate Rubingh
    Kate Rubingh
    PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology

  • Marina Schofield
    Marina Schofield
    PhD Candidate Geology

    Marina joined the Metal Earth project in 2017. Originally from St. John's, Newfoundland, she completed her B.Sc. at Memorial University, then moved to New Zealand and completed her M.Sc. at The University of Auckland. She is currently undertaking a field based research project in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, supervised by Dr. Harold Gibson and Dr. Bruno Lafrance. Her research interests include volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS), epithermal and orogenic ore systems, and their associated hydrothermal alteration

  • Margaret Stewart
    Margaret Stewart
    PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology

    FROM: Ottawa, Ontario GRADUATED FROM: Carleton University (BSc) CURRENT RESEARCH: The volcanic and deformation history, geodynamic setting, and metallogenesis of the Upper Chisel Sequence, Snow Lake, Manitoba, Canada SUPERVISORS: Dr. Harold Gibson/Dr. Bruno Lafrance

  • Zsuzsanna Tóth
    Zsuzsanna Tóth
    PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology

    PhD candidate working on the geology of the Hardrock world-class orogenic gold deposit, Geraldton, ON.

  • Yujian Wang
    Yujian Wang
    PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology

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