Mapping our Potential: Edith Martel - NWT Geological Survey

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November 20, 2018

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Perhaps the single-greatest resource for mineral explorers is geoscience information.

The Northwest Territories has taken that seriously, employing some of the top geological talent in Canada to get in the field, and map the territory’s prodigious potential.

One such employee is Edith Martel — a geologist with the territory’s geological survey, and project leader for a major bedrock mapping push.

Martel, 40, is currently putting her Masters in Earth Science from the University of Waterloo and 20 years of field experience to work at Nonacho Lake — an under-researched region in the southeast of the Northwest Territories between the East Arm of Great Slave Lake and the Saskatchewan border.

This kind of fieldwork is anything but your standard 9-5.

“You’re in the bush, so a lot can happen when you’re out there collecting data,” says Martel, chuckling as she recalls some of her favourite oddities.

“I’ve swam across a lake to escape a tenacious bear, struggled to improvise some camp-made bread to go with the last jam while stranded at camp, and laid down countless nights with bear bangers and spray in-hand dreaming of an uninterrupted sleep.” All worth it for the rocks!

The bedrock mapping Martel and her team are currently running is important because the area isn’t well-understood and could hold a ton of economic potential.

 “It’s an underexplored area in the Canadian Shield’s Rae Craton,” says Martel. “Even with limited understanding, we’re already aware of showings of minerals like gold, copper, uranium and zinc.”

Martel and her team just returned from the first round of fieldwork for the project. “This was the reconnaissance phase,” says Martel. “The next two years will be where we take what we’ve learned, do the bulk of the mapping, and ultimately produce a report and geological maps.”

It’s this kind of work that Martel and her colleagues do every single day. Work like assessing geochemistry in the Slave Geological Province where reports from the team sparked a small staking rush. Or the Central Dehcho, where geologists found an intact diamond in stream sampling.

If geological knowledge is the explorer’s most valuable tool, it’s people like Martel who will pave the way to the next big prospects.