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Home >> Research >> Ore Deposits and Mineral Exploration

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.


Faculty & Research Scientists

  • Faculty


    • Harold L. Gibson
      Harold L. Gibson
      Professor of Economic Geology

      Prof. Gibson joined Laurentian University in 1990, after a successful 12-year career in the mining exploration industry. He and his students have undertaken research projects across Canada, globally, and the modern seafloor.

    • Pedro J. Jugo
      Pedro J. Jugo
      Associate Professor of Igneous Petrology and PhD Program Coordinator

      Dr. Jugo has been a professor at Laurentian University since July 2006. His expertise is in igneous and experimental petrology, and his 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 of Ore Deposit Geology and Applied MSc Coordinator

      Prof. Kontak's 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.

    • Bruno Lafrance
      Bruno Lafrance
      Professor of Structural Geology and Associate Director of Metal Earth

      Prof. 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. He is a lead Principal Investigator on the NSERC-FedNOR-NOHFC-funded "Metal Earth" project.

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

      Prof. Lesher joined Laurentian University in 1997 as NSERC Senior Industrial Research Chair in Mineral Exploration and Founding Director of the Mineral Exploration Research Centre. His research focuses on the physical volcanology, fluid dynamics, and petrogenesis of ultramafic rocks and associated Ni-Cu-PGE and Cr mineralization.

    • Andrew M. McDonald
      Andrew M. McDonald
      Professor of 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 of Geophysics

      Dr. Naghizadeh joined Laurentian University 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
      Professor of Economic Geollgy and Canada Research Chair in Metallogeny

      Prof. 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
      Professor of Economic Geology, Research Chair in Exploration Targeting, and Director of MERC and Metal Earth

      Prof. Sherlock joined Laurentian University in August 2017. He 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.

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

      Prof. Smith joined Laurentian University 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.

    • Douglas K. Tinkham
      Douglas K. Tinkham
      Associate Professor of Metamorphic Petrology and Director of Harquail School of Earth Sciences

      Dr. Tinkham joined Laurentian University 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.

    • Elizabeth C. Turner
      Professor of Sedimentology

      Prof. 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 of Precambrian Geology

      Dr. Perrouty joined Laurentian University in January 2018. His 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.

    • Feltrin
      Leonardo Feltrin
      Associate Professor of Earth Systems Modeling

      Dr. Feltrin joined Laurentian University in January 2018. 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.

  • Post Doctoral Fellows

    Post Doctoral Fellows

    • Esmaeil Eshagi
      Esmaeil Eshagi
      Research Associate, Metal Earth

      Esmaeil has undertaken his PhD on multidisciplinary data compilation, potential field data processing and geophysical 3D modelling from CODES, University of Tasmania, Australia. He joined the Metal Earth team in 2017 working on compilation and processing of geophysical and petrophysical data in Archean Superior Craton.

    • Xiaohui Zhou
      Xiaohui Zhou
      Research Associate, Metal Earth

      Xiaohui joined the Metal Earth geoscience team in 2017. He acts as a research associate working on the Malartic transect mapping project in Quebec. He likes deformed rocks and anything related to gold deposits.

  • PhD Candidates

    PhD Candidates

    • Ijaz Ahmad
      PhD Candidate Geology

      FROM: Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Graduated FROM: University of Peshawar (M.Phil). CURRENT RESEARCH: Arc metal budget assessment for porphyry-epithermal deposits in the Kohistan and Talkeetna arcs. SUPERVISOR: Dr. Jeremy P. Richards

    • 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

    • Sarah Clay
      PhD Candidate Geology

      FROM: Luton, United Kingdom. GRADUATED FROM: University of Leicester, United Kingdom. CURRENT RESEARCH: Mineralising fluids of the Kamoa-Kakula copper deposit, Democratic Republic of Congo. SUPERVISORS: Dr. Elizabeth Turner and Dr. Daniel Kontak

    • Carol-Anne Genereux
      Carol-Anne Généreux
      PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology

      Carol-Anne graduated from McGill University in 2010 with a B.Sc. degree. She was then employed for five years in industry before coming to Laurentian University to start her Ph.D. degree. While in industry, she worked for three year on the world-class Red Lake gold deposit, as a production and then a mine exploration geologist with Goldcorp.

    • 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

      FROM: Brampton, ON. GRADUATED FROM: University of Toronto, Mississauga, ON (H.B.Sc). Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS (M.Sc.App). SPECIALITIES: Fluid geochemistry, Economic geology. CURRENT RESEARCH: Fluid geochemistry associated with gold mineralization in the Hope Bay Greenstone Belt, Nunavut, and Meguma Terrane, Nova Scotia: Fluid origin and application to gold exploration. SUPERVISORS: Dr. Jacob Hanley and Dr. Daniel Kontak

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

      PhD candidate from Limpopo, South Africa. Completed my undergraduate degree at University of Limpopo. Started research at Laurentian University in the Fall of 2015; working on chromitite layer-hosted PGE-Ni-Cu mineralization in the Northern Limb of the Bushveld Igneous Complex, South Africa.

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

      GRADUATED FROM: China University of Geosciences, Beijing (BSc, MSc). CURRENT RESEARCH: Geology, Mineralogy, Geochemistry, and Petrogenesis of the Jinbaoshan Pt-Pd deposit and Baimazhai Ni-Cu deposit, Ailaoshan orogenic belt, Yunnan province, SW China. FUNDED BY: CSC, NSERC-DG, and SEG. SUPERVISORS: Dr. Michael Lesher and Dr. Jun Deng

    • 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.

    • Caroline Mealin
      Caroline Mealin
      PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology

      FROM: Markham, ON. GRADUATED FROM: University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON (BSc Hons and MSc). CURRENT RESEARCH: Geology, geochemistry and petrogenesis of the Paleoproterozoic Booth River Intrusive Complex, Slave Province, Nunavut. FUNDED BY: GSC and NSERC. SUPERVISORS: Dr. C.M. Lesher/Dr. J. Bédard

    • Xuyang Meng
      PhD Candidate Geology

      Precambrian porphyry copper deposits tend to be rare towards ancient geological time on our Earth. The Tongkuangyu copper deposit in Trans-North China, Haib Cu-Mo deposit in Karas region of southern Namibia, and several Archean ‘porphyry’-hosted copper deposits or occurrences in East Canadian Sheild are debated to be porphyry copper systems.

    • Tomas Naprstek
      PhD candidate Geophysics

      I graduated from the University of Waterloo with a B.Sc. Honours Physics degree in 2012, with my thesis focusing on the analysis of astrophysical data. In 2014 I completed my M.Sc. degree at Laurentian University, where my thesis investigated some of the physical relationships involved in the radio imaging method, primarily the effect of increasing dielectric permittivity on the resulting tomographic conductivity datasets.

    • 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

      FROM: England. GRADUATED FROM: Durham University, England (MSci Geological Sciences), Queen's University (MSc Mineral Exploration). SPECIALITIES: Structural Geology, Economic Geology. CURRENT RESEARCH: Structural controls on Gold Mineralization at the Snow Lake Mine, Flin Flon- Snow Lake Greenstone Belt, Manitoba, Canada. SUPERVISOR: Dr. Bruno Lafrance and Dr. Harold Gibson

    • 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...

    • 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

      My PhD focuses on the structural control, mineral assemblage, geochemical footprint and geochronology of the Hardrock orogenic gold deposit. It also provides insight into the regional structural and geodynamic evolution of the Beardmore-Geraldton greenstone belt through U-Pb zircon geochronology of metasedimentary and igneous rocks and geochemistry of granitoid intrusions/dikes. During my PhD, I have published several OGS and GSC reports. I also worked in exploration during the summers of 2014-2016. I have completed my undergrad and master's studies at ELTE, Budapest, Hungary. My MSc focused on a low-sulphidation type epithermal system in northern Hungary.

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

      FROM: Hebei, China. GRADUATED FROM: China University of Geosciences (Wuhan), Wuhan, Hubei (BSc and MSc). CURRENT RESEARCH: Origin of mafic and ultramafic inclusions in the Sublayer of the Sudbury Igneous Complex and their relationship with Ni-Cu-PGE mineralization. SUPERVISORS: Dr. Michael Lesher and Dr. Peter Lightfoot

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