Gold, the noblest of the metals, has been used by the human race for more than 5000 years, but little was known about its geochemistry until the middle of the 20th century. In 1979, the Geological Survey of Canada published Robert Boyle’s The Geochemistry of Gold and Its Deposits, which was to become one of the Survey’s bestsellers both in Canada and abroad. Indeed, this publication has guided gold prospectors and geoscientists since its release.
In the 1970s, the Survey began work on methods of geochemical exploration that used samples of glacial and lake sediments to search for concealed mineral deposits. Preliminary work on drift prospecting for gold began around 1980. The testing phase was followed by a concerted effort to transfer these methods for gold exploration to the provincial geological surveys and industry.
In the 1990s, the Survey’s expertise in surficial geochemistry and biogeochemistry had matured to the point that its scientists were publishing comprehensive reports and leading courses on gold exploration methods. As the level of gold exploration exploded in the Arctic, some of the most active areas were investigated using the methods pioneered by the Survey, including geochemistry, mineralogy, gamma-ray spectrometry, and geomathematics.
McClenaghan, M.B., Thorleifson, L.H., and DiLabio, R.N.W., 1997. Till geochemical and indicator mineral methods in mineral exploration; in Proceedings of Exploration 97, Fourth decennial International Conference on Mineral Exploration, A.G. Gubins (ed.), p. 233-248.