Creative Exploration Geology
By: George S. Green, B.A. Geol.
© 2003 George S. Green
All Rights Reserved.
In order to get a handle on the creative processes of nature responsible for forming a particular mineral deposit, we (geologists) must use a method of exploration practice that will enable our own creative consciousness to come into alignment (in terms of understanding) with the natural creative processes of nature. Contained within this manner of exploration practice is a 'process of discovery', which if properly understood and applied can be used to generate successive mineral discoveries.
The use of the practice of forming multiple working hypotheses in geology, allows geologists to discover and reflect upon the actual creative processes of nature, responsible for forming the geology of a mineral deposit.
Mineral deposits just do not happen instantaneously. They grow. Minerals and mineral deposits grow. Moreover, as they grow, certain processes (which must be discovered) govern and direct their growth and emplacement. As our understanding of these processes grows, we eventually find ourselves being led towards the making of additional discoveries concerning these processes, and the minerals and deposits they produce.
Our development of a competent and comprehensive understanding of the geology of a deposit comes about via this use of the practice of forming multiple working hypotheses. And as exploration work progresses, a body of knowledge and insight is developed, sufficient enough to allow us to be able to predict results in advance of testing. At this point, it can be said that we have achieved a 'mastered working hypothesis'. This is an operational working hypothesis that enables a geologist to confirm how well the geology is understood.
When we generate hypotheses and test them, we are doing so to see if we can discover what ordering of the creative processes of nature, were responsible for producing a particular geological setting and/or mineral deposit. By this manner of exploration practice, we can actually be led to the making of a discovery.
With a "mastered working hypothesis" in hand, we are in a command position to understand fully a particular geological setting and to know where a particular mineral is and why it is where it is. In a manner of speaking, we actually create our discovery as we search for it. If we try to by-pass this creative effort, we may end up with little or nothing.
Many companies with good intentions quite often fail when this approach to exploration is neglected or superceded in some way. For example, under current exploration practice a 'formula orientated' approach often substitutes for true exploration. Such "exploration" efforts are usually based upon a step-by-step, procedural approach aimed at 'evaluating' a property. Drilling and testing are done in the 'hope' of making a discovery. In this case, "property evaluation" substitutes for true exploration.
This "step by step" 'formula orientated' approach is often mistakenly referred to as "exploration" by the Canadian exploration and mining industry. It usually involves four or five steps; prospecting to find a trace or indication of a mineral or mineral deposit; followed by a geochemical survey to define a target area; followed by a geophysical survey to define a target; and finally, drilling to hit the target in the hope of making a discovery.
What most mining and exploration companies and consulting geological companies are engaged in is property evaluation. It is not geological exploration as properly defined and conceptually designed. It is simple property evaluation, and in part, this situation seems to have developed because of the history and the structural nature of the mining business in Canada.
In the 1800's it was the prospector who came into the wilderness ahead of the mining companies. There were few if any exploration companies at that time, only prospectors and their backers and later on, some mining companies with their head offices back east. These prospectors would search the land and make discoveries.
These prospectors would stake their claim; sometimes work their claim, and at other times sell or option their claim to a mining company. The mining company in turn would send its engineer out to evaluate its newly acquired property. They would send an engineer because, being a mining company their main interest was in placing property into production. This objective was an engineer's responsibility, and mining companies had many more engineers on staff than geologists, so the engineer got the call.
Besides that, in the 1800's geology as a science was still quite young and for the most part had not been considered yet as a valid exploration tool. Geologists were thought of, as those fellows who worked for the government and ran around identifying, naming and mapping everything geological. They were not necessarily in the business of finding mineral deposits, let alone evaluating them and placing them into production.
Over time, this property evaluation effort, undertaken by company engineers, began to be referred to as exploration. Companies would option property and initiate exploration programs. However, it was not proper geological exploration that they were engaged in. It was really only property evaluation, and the situation remains much the same today.
Even the geology that is being done within this property evaluation mandate is after the fact geology. In this regard, a property's geology is evaluated as a project advances and an understanding is thereafter worked out as a form of referenced based explanation of the results. Sometimes this shows up as a comparison discussion wherein similar property elsewhere is used as reference property around which a characterization of a current property's geology can be generated.
At other times this property evaluation effort produces a geological study that adequately maps out a property's geology but fails to explain how or why anything is as it is. Usually concerns over quantity, quality and disposition of an ore body take precedence over any in depth pursuit of the more seemingly academic aspects of the data. How a property came to be as it is or why it happened are not of any real concern. Leave it for the government geologist to play with. The main objective is to prove up the economic potential of the company's property, secure its option, and place the property into production.
This formula orientated approach to conducting such property evaluation efforts has to a large degree been adopted as standard operating procedure by Canada's exploration industry, much to the detriment of geologists and the work they should otherwise be capable of doing.
Through properly orientated geological research and exploration practice, we can actually create a discovery as we search for it. Through proper exploration practice, a track record of higher order discoveries precedes and directs subsequent decisions. As if, the projected direction of many little discoveries along the way equals a big discovery in the end.
This is not however, a mathematical matter. It is something contained within the creative process incorporated within our scientific approach to exploration. When followed, it puts the geologist in the command position to know where the minerals are, and why they are where they are. To be in a position to go after them with a higher degree of certainty than simply that of hope alone.
There is a big difference between true geological exploration and mere property evaluation. Creative exploration geology involves and incorporates within it, a process of discovery. Property evaluation is something static. A simple probing. A seeing if approach. It does not necessarily lead you anywhere. You may occasionally make a discovery because of it but not as a result of it.
What seems to occur under this property evaluation (formula orientated) approach, is a lot of drilling and testing carried out in the hope of making a discovery. When this approach fails, it is said that; they failed to make a discovery. From the perspective of the creative exploration geologist they did not fail to make a discovery, so much as they failed to create a discovery.
Creative Exploration Geology is yet a higher order conceptual perception of the exploration process and goes well beyond anything currently being done. Creative Exploration Geology is a 'pro-generative' scientific endeavor, which makes it possible to generate mineral discoveries from properly applied geological research and exploration practice.
Along with the formula orientated approach to "exploration" (property evaluation) and coming as well out of the early exploration efforts of the mining industry, is an approach to exploration known as a "classic minerals exploration play". This kind of an exploration "play" occurs when and where a company has property (or seeks property) that is "on strike" and/or "down dip" from a known mineral discovery. This is considered to be the best kind of property to secure during a staking rush.
The approach to exploration employed in this case consists of an effort to locate the 'on strike' and/or 'down dip' extension of the geological feature (usually formation or fault zone) containing the original discovery. The operative means to accomplish this being simple geometric projection. And this would seem to be a logical approach to take, except when matters become complicated due to a complex structural setting.
In this case, while some of the elements of the geology of the discovery property may be present and identified on ones own property, there may not be enough information or even an appropriate marker bed or horizon upon which to make or confirm a geometric projection. When this happens, this geometric projection formula may not work.
For the creative exploration geologist there is no doubt of the need to do a through geological study of the property containing the original discovery. And you would think that those responsible for the original discovery would have or might have already done this. However, all too often, such is not the case.
Historically a great many "major" discoveries have come to pass only as the result of a prospector's original 'outcrop discovery' and not at all, as the result of competent geological research and exploration. Subsequent drilling of said "prospector's discovery" confirms it as being a "major" discovery and things move on from there rather quickly to being concerned with defining the internal 'quantity', 'quality' and 'disposition' of the ore body. The 'how' and 'why' of it, as a geological feature becomes an 'after the fact' academic exercise. A backward looking referenced based explanation of the results.
Hence, no proper, before the fact geological research and/or exploration has actually taken place (or very little at best). No "mastered working hypothesis" incorporating an inherent 'process of discovery' has ever been generated. Therefore, no one really knows or understands how or why anything is as it is. No one has bothered to generate the kind of insight into the geology of the discovery property that can be used to step out into the surrounding geology and effectively generate a subsequent discovery.
The creative exploration geologist would want to know what forces were responsible for shaping the geology of the region, as well as what forces were responsible for shaping the local geology of the discovery itself.
It's this understanding of those forces and the forms of expression of those forces, operating over an entire region, throughout the geological history of that region that need to be mastered and subsequently projected onto one's own property. This way the identified geology from your own property can be situated into that picture and by this means, you can come to know or understand where upon your own property the discovery bed or horizon might be located.
It's not the information itself or the way the information is put together. It's the process by which the information is gathered that creatively generates the prescient insight. The process of discovery operating within the exploration process, coupled with the manner of practice of the creative exploration geologist helps order the perceptive capabilities of the mind of the geologist in such a way, that the direction of growth in his or her understanding is 'pro-generative' to the end intent of creating (actually generating) a discovery.
By this manner of exploration practice, the creative exploration geologist is actually 'led' to make a discovery. The accomplished creative exploration geologist knows how to direct such exploration programs to this end. In a manner of speaking, the creative exploration geologist actually creates this 'discovery' in the process of looking for it. Eventually this geologist will come to 'know' where the minerals are and 'why' they are where they are, and be in a position to go after them with a higher degree of certainty than simply that of hope alone.
Now consider this:
97% of all "exploration" programs fail to generate a significant discovery. 2% find something, and only 1% ever make a discovery that results in a mine. These figures were presented (as I recall) at a combined B.C. Ministry of Mines - Yukon Chamber of Mines conference in Vancouver, B.C. in the late 70's. The intent of the author was to show "how difficult it is to find a mine".
There is however, another way to look at these figures:
97% of all exploration programs conducted along the lines of this formula orientated approach fail. 2% find something. And only 1% ever make a significant discovery.
What is going on here is not geological exploration. It's technological prospecting, and it fails 97% of the time!
Why raise all that money, and pour it into a manner of exploration practice (property evaluation) that for all intents and purposes is a near virtual, if not a proven failure?
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