There is no question that British Columbia is home to the greatest concentration of mineral exploration professionals in the world. This is not an accident, but rather the result of our province hosting some of our planet’s most fertile geology and productive ore deposits.
The geology of British Columbia was forged by a dynamic sequence of continental rifting followed by reattachment of the fragments, together with slivers of island arc (Quesnel and Stikine) and oceanic crust (Slide Mountain and Cache Creek), all slamming into each other. The subduction processes that drew these ribbons of rock together set in motion the production of probably the largest granite batholith in the world in the Coast Mountain Belt. The Wrangellia Island Arc slid down from the north and joined onto the western margin of this belt; somewhere along the line, a series of oceanic crust slices – now preserved on Vancouver Island – sidled up from the south.
Ongoing Cascadian subduction means many of B.C.’s residents live in the middle of an active volcanic belt, and oral histories of First Nations communities record volcanic eruptions and lava flows such as are preserved in Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park. This rapid (by geological standards) and ongoing evolution of the rocks below our feet has also resulted in some of the world’s most prolific terrain for ore deposits.
Island arc fronts are the perfect breeding grounds for copper-molybdenum porphyry deposits, and back arc basins with active volcanism lead to the formation of volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) and porphyry coppergold deposits. The Golden Triangle within the Stikine has yielded a series of exceptional gold deposits hosted within porphyries, VMS deposits and epithermal environments – with retreating glaciers revealing more every year. And let us not forget the extensive coal deposits that augment the precious and base metal enrichment of B.C.
In the following pages you will find an overview of the geological history and ore deposits of the major terranes that comprise our province. They will take you on a journey through the geological processes that created the rocks beneath our feet, and will highlight the mineral riches bestowed by these processes.
Also hidden within these articles is over a century of research that has resulted in our current understanding of how all these rocks and minerals ended up where they are today. It is a credit to the many prospectors, exploration geologists and scientists who have walked our incredible mountains and valleys that we have such a well-formed understanding of their construction.