In its early stages, exploration is often done by mapping and prospecting rocks at the surface which are called outcrops. In the Ring of Fire there are very few outcrops which makes exploration challenging.
When no outcrops are exposed, exploration is typically done through geophysical surveys followed by diamond drilling. Diamond drills are large, heavy and moved by helicopter which takes a lot of time and money. We needed an affordable, lower impact method to “prospect” interesting geophysical targets, so we got creative and decided to use Rotary Air Blast (RAB) drilling—a first in the Ring of Fire.
“The RAB drill is an exciting tool for geologists because it allows us to see the rock that causes an anomaly. It is also small and relatively portable so we can get it to targets faster, easier and at a lower cost,” said Noront Project Geologist Matt Deller (pictured). “We examine the rock with an XRF gun to help identify the rock type. It’s helpful to look at the rocks causing the anomaly rather than vast amounts of swamp and clay.”
A RAB drill uses air to chisel through rock which pushes samples up for collection. These are examined by a geologist and analyzed at a lab to determine what type of minerals may be in the rocks and whether any further work is needed.