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GEOLOGY 350Y - Field Studies, Geological Mapping, May 2 - 15 (incl)

Geology and mineral deposits of the Southern and Grenville Provinces, Ontario, Canada

  Landsat Image of the Field Camp Area, Coniston, Sudbury
(Ramsey Lake, lower left)


       The excursion to Sudbury will leave PROMPTLY from the rear loading dock of the B & G Building at 7.30 A.M., Monday May 1st.  Each student is required to fill out a standard University  'Release and Assumption of Risk'   form. This should have been done at the time the course fee is paid to the departmental secretary.  If you haven't done so, please do see the secretary. Do not forget to bring your OHIP card - in case you should need medical attention.


              Participants: (if your name is not on the following list, contact Dr Duke as soon as possible.)





              TENTATIVE Program

      The aim of the course is to provide Geology students  with an opportunity to prepare and then carry out a mapping program in an area of deformed and metamorphosed sedimentary and igneous rocks. The mapping sites are all located in the vicinity of Sudbury, Ontario.  

                    Why the Sudbury region?

          The Sudbury region is underlain by parts of three structural provinces:  the Superior Province(> 2.5 Ga); the Southern Province (1.86 Ga); and the Grenville Province  (1.0 Ga), and is therefore one of the best places in the world  to examine plate tectonic mechanisms of crustal formation over a significant portion of Precambrian time.  In addition, the intersection of the three province boundaries at Sudbury marks the approximate location of the well known Sudbury meteorite impact site and its associated nickel-copper mineralization.
       In terms of
crustal evolution, the greater Sudbury region provides an opportunity to examine:

        1) Archean-type crustal development as evidenced by the rocks of the Abitibi belt of the Superior Province.

        2) the evolution of the Southern Province through its various stages of  rifting, volcanism and granite intrusion, large scale obduction-related? deformation,  collisional polyphase deformation and crustal melt formation, and the genesis of  important deposits of uranium  and silver
        3) major mafic dike swarms injected at
2.45 Ga, 2.22 Ga, 1.75?, 1.4?, 1.24 Ga, and 575 Ma.

        4) the deformational and igneous character of the 'Grenville Front' as the northern limit of the c. 1.0 Ga collisional Grenville and the c. 1.75 Ga Penokean orogens.

      The Sudbury region also provides an unique opportunity to examine the consequences of large-scale mining on the environment, and the efforts that have been made to curb the negative effects of this activity.

      The geological significance of the greater Sudbury region is at least on a par with that of the Gros Morne Park  region of Western Newfoundland,  declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations because of its geology.  (The Gros Morne site is located within the obduction-related foreland land basin of  the Appalachian structural province, and is  considered "apparently one of the best places in the world to see the legacy of plate tectonics".)  In comparison, the Sudbury region would need to be declared a World Heritage geological super-Site.

                  Why GIS/GPS?

        Other than knowing how to make and record geological observations (by the end of third-year you should know how to measure dips and strikes; identify rock types, etc), it is important for a field geologist to a) know how to accurately record the coordinate locations of outcrops representing measurement and sample sites, and b) know how to archive and 'layer' the collected field data.  Layering refers to the process of separating observed data into classes that can be viewed in different combinations, e.g. bedding orientations alone; bedding and foliations together; geologic boundaries and bedding trend lines; outcrop sites, etc.  (In this sense ordinary geologic maps constitute a single layer, and as such contain far too much data to allow meaningful analysis of the individual data classes by simple visual examination of the map.)

                 Recording data   

      At second year field camp you would have been instructed at a minimum on how to make measurements of strike and dip, and to trace out the boundaries of rock units at the member scale.  Your observations in this regard were recorded in some sort of order in field notebooks. Given the provisional nature of second-year field camp the data would be discarded at the end of field camp. 

      At third-year field camp however, the data will be recorded in a manner such that it can be archived in a geological database accessible to people other than yourself (your company's data manager?)

      To this end each student will be assigned a number (e.g. 01), and each field station (outcrop) visited by the student will be identified as a 10 digit number, where, for example, in the number 04050101-01, 04 represents the year 2004; 05 the month of May; 01 the student #; 01 the traverse (day), - 01 the outcrop.  The number scheme chosen allows each outcrop to be identified in a GIS database according to year, month, day of traverse, and observer. Similarly, an aerial photograph or its overlay used by the observer would be labelled as, e.g. 030501 (year, month, student), whereas an outcrop (way station) on the photograph would be identified as '01-01' (traverse1-outcrop 1).  (This allows for several field camps per year, 99 students per field camp, 99 traverses per student and 99 outcrops per traverse!!)  Using this system all observations made at field camp can be stored sequentially according to year, observer (student), and traverse.  The coordinate data for each way station can be downloaded from a GPS unit, modified, and stored in an EXCEL database, along with field observational data, as a single record.  The Excel data can subsequently be imported into Autocad or Arc view, and superimposed on an airphoto backdrop.

       Noted: it is common now for geologists to record data with a PDA.  This we will not be doing simply because of the cost of providing PDAs.

               Locating yourself on an aerial photograph

         As most students who have attended second-year field camp will readily acknowledge, finding one's location on an aerial photograph when traversing in the bush is not easy.  This problem can be rectified through the use of a GPS unit in conjunction with a georegistered and usefully gridded airphoto.  This aspect of field work will be taught prior to going to field camp.  Meetings for this purpose will be arranged during the winter term (this year, March 26th, 9 am, room 62). The software used will be ArcGis9, and an outline of the course can be consulted at:

       A module describing the computer procedures used to georegistrer photographs is also available at the following internet site:


        The module will also explain the concepts of map projection, rubber-banding, and data layering.

        For a general course on GIS database concepts and mapping procedures click the following:  'Fieldlog'.

        For a detailed explanation of image rectification see also:


        Students are encouraged to bring their own laptop computers, preloaded with ArcGIS9 (please consult with the course instructor).

              Student evaluation

      Following the instructional stage (first five days), students will map for six days as individuals, and no further direct instruction will be provided during this part of the course. Nevertheless, for safety reasons, students will form mapping teams. (There are 8 students and two instructors, and the function of the 'instructors' at this stage will be safety surveillance and the correction of any serious locational problems - students walking off the limits of the airphoto, etc!!)  On the last day of the course, students will be tested on their ability to map a relatively small test area (the same area for all students), and will also be given an evening oral examination covering all aspects of the course.  (The oral examination is a stressful examination for many students since this format makes it less easy for a person to fudge, avoid, or re-orient answers to questions.  Nevertheless, it has the merit of replicating the common geology interview that students will inevitably face when entering the job market, and therefore provides an excellent opportunity to face this particular dragon. To be forewarned is to be forearmed!!)   The overall evaluation will therefore be based on three components:  the notes and maps (40%), the mapping test (40%), and the oral examination (20%).

        Tentative Course schedule (last revised Nov 4th 2006):

    Mon May 01   Travel to Sudbury (instructional day)
    Tue  May 02   The Sudbury Basin and Southern Province to the Grenville Front (instructional day)
    Wed May 03    Falconbridge Mine (AM), Barnett foot wall of the Strathcona deposit PM)
    Thu  May 04    The Espanola/Whitefish Falls/Cutler region (instructional day)
    Fri    May 05    Group mapping exercise, Garson (instructional day)
    Sat   May 06    Group mapping exercise, Coniston (instructional day)
    Sun  May 07    Mapping
    Mon May 08    Mapping
    Tue  May 09    Mapping
    Wed May 10    Mapping
    Thu  May 11    Mapping
    Fri    May 12    Mapping test
    Sat   May 13    Return to London.Field test and examination

        (We can assume that at least one day of the above schedule will be lost due to inclement weather)

              En route to Sudbury a stop will be made between Parry Sound and Pointe au Baril to examine the nature of the Parry Sound shear zone and the shear pods of  the southern Britt zone of the Grenville Province. Time permitting, we will also examine the Alban quartzites and the high P/high T Burwash migmatites.
         The first two days of the course will involve a traverse of the Sudbury basin to a point south of the ‘Grenville Front’ near Long Lake, and a traverse across the Espanola - Whitefish Falls area. (
Geology of the Sudbury Region.) The third day will be dedicated to the geology of the northern Grenville Province. These three days, as well as the first day of travel, will be considered instructional days, and as such will provide students with an opportunity to test their ability to recognise key rock types and structures at the outcrop scale (Whitewater series, Sudbury Irruptive, ‘trap’ dikes, Nipissing diabase, Sudbury diabase, Grenville diabase, high and low metamorphic grade Huronian metasediments, ‘older’ and ‘younger’ Grenville Front granites, etc).  They will also provide the context (big picture!) for an examination of the various geophysical data sets (seismic, magnetic, gravity) currently available for the Sudbury region.  For the next two days students will collectively map two areas of deformed Huronian rocks in the Coniston area, and during this time receive instruction in basic orienteering and the use of their GPS units with georegistered airphotos. The remaining time will be partitioned to allow students to map areas  pertinent to the resolution of several outstanding issues concerning the geology of the Sudbury region. We will try to organize an underground visit to the Falconbridge Mine.

          We are fully cognizant that some students would like to be provided with more instruction than is given during the five instructional days.  However, given the limited time available to us (most US colleges require 6 weeks), and the need for students to have a opportunity to test themselves in the field before the summer field season - in other words to be weaned from total reliance on the instructors - we consider the six days of independent mapping to be optimum.  In this context students should make sure that they participate actively and pay close attention to what is being said when instruction is given during the first five days!  By the end of the field camp we would hope that you will have become decidedly more knowledgeable about the geology of Ontario and have learned to be observant, self-reliant, and confident in the field.

        A comprehensive description of the geology to be examined during the course can be viewed at:


       The course is subject to student evaluation.


               Travel to Sudbury

        We will travel to Sudbury in a single 15 seater vehicle, and since we are 9 students +  3 faculty + equipment, space will be at a premium. There will be room in the vans for only one normal size 'soft' suitcase per person (no guitars, drum sets, giant boomboxes, etc); please try therefore to minimize your luggage. If you wish to listen to music while travelling, please bring your own head-set radios/cds. The van radio will be turned on only at the discretion of the driver, and it would be appreciated that students not hassle the driver in this regard.
        Students may travel to Sudbury in their own vehicles, but all travel during the field camp period must be in the departmental vehicle.

        Students will be accomodated, depending on availability, either in the student residence at 885 Regent St South, Sudbury (674-8731) (Click here for location), or in one of the Laurentian University residences, or in the Rest Haven Motel, Coniston. 

        Students who live in the Sudbury area and who intend staying at home during the course should make this fact known to Dr. Church.  The rules concerning morning departure (see below) will still apply.

      IMPORTANT: We have conducted field camp in the Sudbury region for many years.  We have been charged a very reasonable room rate on the understanding that we do not damage property and do not disturb other guests.  This is very important at a time when it is proving difficult to control the cost of field camps. Consequently, we are obliged to comport ourselves in a manner such that we draw no complaints from other residents. This means no noisy parties, no drunkenness, no water bomb wars, no more than six people in a room at any one time, no smoking, and rooms to be kept reasonably tidy  ('reasonable' to be determined by the residence staff).

         The residence does not provide cooking utensils, and if you wish to use the residence kitchen to prepare your own meals, including breakfast and lunch, you should bring a small saucepan (e.g. for vegetables)/frying pan (e.g. for meat) /bowl (e.g. for cereals)/aluminium foil (e.g. for fish)/plate/cup/ KFS/scrubber/dish cloth/drying cloth/serviette. A visit will be made to a grocery store at the end of each day. If many students choose to prepare their own meals, cooking may have to be be done in 'sittings'.  It would be polite in this case to remove your garbage when finished and to keep the kitchen area as clean as possible.  (At Cambrian there are restaurants within walking distance.)  Regrettably, other than under special circumstances, the rental vans will not be available "on demand" to provide a limousine service.

            Morning Departures
        Departure time for the field each morning will be at 8.30 am prompt. Students should therefore be showered by 7.30 am, have completed breakfast by 8.15 a.m., and be at the vans by 8.25 am.


        The University insists that SMOKING and DRINKING OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES NOT BE ALLOWED IN THE VANS. Do not even bother to ask! Beverages containing alcohol must be very securely packed away in your bags. Furthermore, the University stipulates that "if students wish to consume alcoholic beverages it is to be done on their own time and not any time during the course program."

        University regulations also require that students wear hard hats and safety glasses when in the field, e.g. hard hats when examining unstable road sections, safety glasses when hammering rocks. Hard hats and safety glasses will be provided by the department.

                Potential Problems
        1) The field course program is predicated on the assumption that the weather will be constantly sunny. There is a chance however that some mapping days will be lost to heavy rain. This is not the result of disorganization on the part of the instructional staff!

        2) This is a field course and students will need to adjust to being outdoors all day and having to walk long distances - sometimes in the cold, sometimes in the rain. We are willing to recognise that a student may discover at any given moment that they are not physically fitted for field work and/or that field studies are really not their "thing"! In this case it is important, particularly if the weather is poor, that an attempt be made not to diminish group morale.  To this end, any complaint, legitimate or not, should be addressed promptly to the instructors and not allowed to fester. We would prefer that field camp be a relatively pleasant experience, notwithstanding that it is an examination course and not a holiday.

        3)  Please try to limit the number of times you lock your key in your room.
        4) Some students tend to imbibe overly large volumes of alcohol in the evenings, are hung over the next morning, and as a result tend to be less than enthusiastic when in the field or when receiving instruction.  You are therefore encouraged to be moderate in your consumption of alchohol -
self-inflicted injury will engender no sympathy! Repeat offenders will be sent home by bus.
        5)  Students who watch TV into the early hours of the morning sometimes have difficulty getting out of bed at the required time each morning.

        6)    Please read the Ontario "Tresspass to Property Act" at the following government site:


                 If you wish to examine any outcrop that is obviously on private property please request permission of the land owner to examine the outcrop.  Most, but not all, property owners are very happy to let you examine rocks outcropping on their land. If you inadvertently find yourself in a position of trespass and are requested to leave the property, please provide an explanation of your presence to the landowner, and comply without protest if your explanation does not gain you permission to remain.  Be as pleasant and apologetic as possible,  particularly should the property owner show signs of irritation.


           The department will provide aerial photos, notebooks, compasses, GPS units, magnets, hammers, hard hats and  safety glasses; for which the students will sign. (Although a deposit is not required for the use of the equipment, students will be required to replace lost or damaged equipment.)

            Students should bring a WRIST-WATCH, HAND LENS, clipboard, and an ultrafine, waterproof, PERMANENT marking pen (Steadtler or Sharpie) capable of writing on mylar sheets and the aerial photos.  Bring at least TWO markers of different colour - if you bring only one you will inevitably mislay or lose it within the first two or three days in the field!! (Bring three markers if you are the kind of person who mislays pens easily!) You are also required to bring pencils, ball-point pens, coloured pencils, ruler, square, two sets of spare AA batteries for the GPS units, sample bags, boots (perhaps also spare shoes/boots, running shoes, soccer shoes),  warm clothing (+ thermos?), and rain clothes (ponchos).

           IMPORTANT: you MUST, MUST MUST! wear an outer shirt or field jacket, e.g. a Brunton/crossing guard jacket, that is red or orange in colour (NO greens, blues, or blacks). This will increase your visibility and make it easy to find you should you get lost.  Along with a hard-hat, an orange jacket will mark you out, and cause you to invite less attention from the public and sundry officials when wandering over outcrops.

        Please also bring a sleeping bag or sheets and cover.  The student residence does not provide bedding.


     The field area you will be working in is mostly open ground with minimal tree cover such that moving humans and animals are easily seen from a distance.  We have two Cobra MicroTalk2 unitsPlease feel free to bring your own communicator, if it will make you feel more secure.
     There is also a likelihood (depending on the year) that you will see a black bear, wolf, or coyote, and while in the vast majority of cases these animals will try to avoid rather than approach you, there remains the possibility that a bear will be attracted by       your lunch.  Furthermore, should you run into bear cubs, the bear sow could be dangerous. The experts - see below - say no, but you never know, for which reason you should promptly remove yourself from the vicinity of the cubs - don't hang around to take photographs! In consideration of these eventualities, however unlikely, we will provide you with a spray deterrent if you request it. The following is taken from the web site of the Forest Service of the US Department of Agriculture at:


    "Black bears can injure or kill people, but they rarely do. When pressed, they usually retreat, even with cubs. Attacking to defend cubs is more a grizzly bear trait. (Grizzlies live only in Alaska, northern and western Canada, and the Rocky Mountains south to Yellowstone.)  Black bear mothers often leave their cubs and flee from people, and those that remain are more likely to bluff-charge than attack. Still, it is prudent to use extra caution with family groups that allow close approaches because mothers are generally more nervous than other bears. Nevertheless, chances of being attacked around campsites by any black bear are small. During a 19-year study of bear/camper encounters in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, only two injuries were reported in 19 million visitor-days. The study included the year 1985 when bear nuisance activity was at a record high. The two injuries were by one bear on September 14 and 15, 1987. The bear was killed the next day."  "Unprovoked, predatory attacks by black bears are rare but highly publicized. Such attacks have accounted for all 23 deaths by non-captive black bears across North America this century. Most occurred in remote areas where the bears had little or no previous contact with people, rather than in and around established campsites. The worst attack occurred in Ontario in 1978 when a black bear killed and partially consumed three teenagers who were fishing. Predatory attacks by black bears are usually done without bluster or warning. People involved in such attacks can improve their chances by fighting rather than playing dead. Deaths from such attacks average a little more than one every four years across the United States and Canada." "Fortunately, black bears usually use at least as much restraint with people as they do with each other. Unlike domestic dogs, which often are territorial and aggressive toward 

strangers, black bears typically behave as the subordinate toward people when escape is possible." "Black bears that want our food sometimes use threats or bluffs to get it, as has been reported by campers, picnickers, and backpackers.  The most common behavior of this sort is blowing, which may be accompanied by clacking teeth, lunging, laid back ears, slapping the ground or trees, and/or a short rush. The same behavior is used to scare other bears from feeding areas. The sounds and actions are all done explosively, with effective results. However, it is rare for a black bear to attack a person during or after such a demonstration. All blowing bears observed by the author retreated when pursued. A less common sound is the resonant "voice" of a bear. This is used to express intense emotions (fear, pain, and pleasure), including strong threats.  Black bears with ready escape routes seldom use this threat toward people. Grunts are used in non-threatening communication to cubs, familiar bears, and sometimes people."
     See also

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