Faculty and graduate students from the University of Calgary have joined in the research of sedimentary basins in the Arctic. One of Canada’s least-examined frontiers is believed to host as much as 25% of the country’s oil and gas reserves as well as untold mineral possibilities.
The work is part of the federal government’s Studies to Unlock Northern Basins Energy along Arctic Margins (SUNBEAM for short). The U of C team will receive $100,000 per year from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), National Resources Canada (NRCan) and French energy giant Total. The Sverdrup Basin, which extends across the northern tip of the Arctic islands will be targeted.
The work is being done in support of NRCan’s Geomapping for Energy and Minerals project (GEM), a five-year, $100-million effort to identify energy and mineral resources. Significant effort is directed toward mapping the remotest regions. One outcome of the project is to create a scientific and technical database for northern communities to use when planning for resource development.
The GEM project has several objectives. Included are field mapping Arctic sedimentary basins, the study of Mesozoic biostratigraphy, research into indicator minerals and diamond exploration, quantative geoscience integration and hyperspectral sensing in northern mineral exploration.
This writer sees such work as the first steps in unlocking more of Canada’s resources. I am gratified that it is being done now because it will take decades before new mineral producers can be developed. I expect a thorough geoscientific examination of the Arctic will point the way to recoverable resources, just as similar programs in other northern Canadian latitudes has led the way to successful base metal, iron ore, diamond and gold mines.
Mapping the Arctic will also strengthen claims of Canadian sovereignty in the area. In a world where resources (mineral, hydrocarbon, transportation routes, farm land and more) will have to support a growing global population, our country has every right to lay claim to what may provide it a strong economic future. I trust Canadians to be responsible stewards of future resources.
Dr. John Percival, manager responsible for minerals, can be reached by phone at 613-995-3723 or email john.percival@NRCan-RNCan.gc.ca.