In the field: revealing the geologic history of the world's largest undeveloped Zn-Pb deposits

November 25, 2022
Darius Kamal in the Mackenzie Mountains

In the past summer, Darius Kamal, EOAS Ph.D. student in Geological Sciences supervised by Dr. Kenneth Hickey, went on fieldwork in the Mackenzie Mountains, western central Yukon.

“The focus of my research is on the world-class Howard's Pass Zn-Pb district located on the border of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories,” said Darius. The cluster of 15 deposits is the world's largest undeveloped Zn-Pb resource, but despite decades of geological work, the structural geometry and kinematic history of the deposits and surrounding region are poorly understood. To understand what happened in the past for the deposits, Darius is undertaking a project to define the geometry and kinematic evolution of Neoproterozoic to the latest Paleozoic rocks in the region between Macmillan Pass and Howard’s Pass in the Selwyn Mountains.

During the fieldwork this summer, Darius collected data to assess the role that faults on the margin of NW Laurentia in the Siluro-Devonian may have played in the localization of shale-hosted massive sulfide Zn-Pb deposits, and whether these faults were preferentially reactivated and controlled the pattern of crustal shortening during the Cretaceous Cordilleran orogeny. He is also looking at the chemical, mineralogical and textural effect of Cordilleran deformation of the Zn-Pb orebodies themselves, especially the remobilization of sphalerite.

“This study will help constrain the role deformation plays in affecting the geometry, distribution, and economic viability of shale-hosted massive sulfide deposits. It will contribute new lithostratigraphic and structural maps towards future exploration within the Selwyn basin and provide useful analogies for exploration within other inverted sedimentary basins globally,” said Darius.