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Slave Volcanogenic Massive Sulphides (VMS)

Slave Volcanogenic Massive Sulphides (VMS)

Pillow lava rocks


The Slave Geological Province lies between Great Slave Lake and Coronation Gulf, and is well known for its world-class gold and diamond deposits.  The Slave province also has base-metals (combinations  of zinc, lead, and copper) and precious metals (gold and silver) deposits known as volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits (VMS). These VMS deposits are associated with ancient volcanoes (volcanic belts) over 2.6 billion years old and are now perserved as bedrock of the Canadian Shield. The aim of this project is to further assess the VMS deposit potential of the Slave Province in the NWT and provide area specific drift prospecting tools for these deposits.

Map of Slave Geoogical Province with VMS deposits


The project considers all volcanic belts within the Slave Province of the NWT. Areas with complex geology, known VMS deposits, and areas that have excellent bedrock exposures have been targeted for mapping.

Geologist standing on red-coloured bedrock


VMS deposits have high economical potential. The Slave Province is known to contain such deposits, but due to generally poor infrastructure these have been relatively under-explored. Renewed mineral industry exploration of these deposits began in the late 2000’s, but this has been focussed almost entirely in Nunavut, even though deposits are known in the NWT and the same geology exists in the NWT. New bedrock geology maps are valuable insights into the geology of an area and serve as legacy data for the future.

Geologic map of the Sharrie Lake volcanic rocks


This project maps the bedrock at 1:20000 scale or better,  and targets areas burned by forest fires in the last 15 years. These fires remove extensive lichen from the bedrock allowing for detailed geology maps. This is complimented with high-precision uranium-lead zircon dating and geochemistry of rocks with VMS deposits and those without. These studies will help ascertain if there is an age relationship between VMS belts and non-VMS hosting belt. The project is focussed on providing new bedrock geology maps for well-exposed volcanic belts that contain hallmark indications that they may contain VMS deposits.

Rock hammer and sulphide mineralization


Bedrock mapping took place at Sharrie Lake and in the Snare River and Indin Lake areas, north of Yellowknife in 2013 and 2014. Mapping within the Beaulieu River area, hosting the Sunrise deposits, took place in 2016 and 2017. Mapping in the Point Lake area began in 2017 and is ongoing. Surficial sediment sampling related to VMS exposures took place in 2016 and 2017 and include the Beaulieu River area, the Point Lake area and regional sampling across a north to south transect of the Slave Geological Province. The 2018 field mapping season will be based at Jolly Lake and will also focus on mineral potential and factors in metal distribution across the proposed Slave Geological Province Access Corridor.

Exposed bedrock and vegetation

Partners and Support

  • Mount Royal University: Michelle DeWolfe
  • Consultant (former NTGS): Valerie Jackson
  • Laurentian University (Metal Earth): Harold Gibson
  • Carleton University: Brian Cousens
  • University of Toronto: Mike Hamilton
  • Other Acknowledgements: Steven Piercey (Memorial University of Newfoundland), Jan Peter (Geological Survey of Canada), Kirsti Medig (Simon Fraser University), David Knowlton (University of Calgary), Harold Gibson (Laurentian University), Lou Covello


Slave craton; VMS mineralization; volcanic belts; Archean tectonics; bedrock mapping; CA-ID-TIMS U-Pb zircon dating; major and trace element geochemistry; Nd isotope geochemistry; zircon Hf isotope geochemistry; Yellowknife Supergroup; Banting Group; Kam Group