Precambrian Research Center

2012 Professional Field Course


October 21 - 27, 2012

Vermilion District of Minnesota

Participant Limit: 20

Registration Fees: $4800 (before August 8th)
                             $5300 (after August 8th)

Registration Deadline: October 8, 2012


Information Circular

Registration Form


Geologic Setting




Accommodations and Meals

Cancellation Policy

Arrival and Lodging in Duluth

For More Information

Vermillion gold
Geology and gold propsects in the Mud Creek Road Area, which will be the focus of the field course (from Peterson and Patelke, 2004)

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Objectives of the Field Course

Orogenic (lode) gold deposits are key exploration targets given recent high gold prices. These deposits are highly variable in terms of their geologic setting, their geochemical attributes, and geophysical signatures, and successful exploration can be hindered by these variabilities. In particular, complex, often polyphase deformation can obscure key features that need to be worked out before effective exploration can be realized.

The principal objective of this field course is to provide advanced field training for professional geologists looking to develop or hone their mapping and observational skills that are best suited to field studies of glaciated Archean greenstone-granite terranes that are prospective for lode gold deposits.  The camp will focus on an area in the Vermilion District of the Wawa-Abitibi terrane of the Superior Province (Fig. 1).  The Vermilion District has proven prospectivity for shear zone-, iron formation-, and intrusion-hosted gold deposits.

What this course purposely does not offer is training in various field mapping hardware or software applications.  Although computers loaded basic spreadsheet, imaging, and GIS applications will be available for use throughout the camp, these are intended to allow participants to view and integrate their field data with previously acquired geologic, geophysical, geochemical and drill core data in order to make reasonable geologic and mineral potential interpretations. No high-priced, technologically-advanced gizmo or fancy application will fix poor observations or inaccurate mapping.  As the adage goes – garbage in – garbage out.  This course will teach how to avoid garbage in.
Specific mapping skills to be taught during this course include:
  • constructing useful field base maps
  • neatly and accurately recording field information on field maps and in notebooks
  • packing necessary field equipment
  • developing navigational, logistical and safety skills necessary to maneuver through boreal forests of the Canadian Shield
  • integrating field data with geophysical, geochemical and drill core data to make reasonable interpretations o f gold mineralization potential
Observational skills to be emphasized during this course include the recognition of:
  • volcanic, intrusive and sedimentary lithologies typical of Archean greenstone belts
  • primary and secondary structural features and the presence of polyphase deformation
  • metamorphic condition indicators
  • permissive geology, structures, alteration styles, and other indicators of gold mineralization
The course will begin with a regional overview of rock types, alteration assemblages, and structural elements that characterize the Vermilion district, both in the field and in evening lectures.  The core activity of the field course will involve several days of detail bedrock mapping in prospect-scale areas that are known to be prospective for shear zone-, iron formation-, or intrusion-hosted gold deposits.  Participants will work in small field parties (2-4) on a prospect area of their choice and will be given access to previously acquired geochemical and geophysical data.  For the “final exam”, each field party will be given an exploration budget from which they must develop recommendations to the “company board” for follow-up drilling program.

Geologic Setting of the Field Course Area

The Vermilion district of northeastern Minnesota contains one of the classic granite-greenstone terranes in the United States.  This district comprises the south-central part of the Wawa-Abitibi Terrane of the Superior Province of the Canadian Shield and has been broadly correlated with the Saganagons Assemblage of the Wawa-Abatibi subprovince in northwestern Ontario.  In Canada, the Wawa-Abatibi Terrane hosts numerous lode gold (e.g. the Hemlo, Timmins, Kirkland Lake, Bousquet, and Renabie districts) and volcanic-hosted massive sulfide (VMS) ore bodies (e.g. the Winston Lake, Willroy, Big Nama Creek, Willecho, and Geco deposits).  The Vermilion district is well known for its numerous, previously mined, massive hematitic iron ore deposits.  These iron deposits were discovered in the early 1880s, and virtually all-subsequent exploration efforts in the region were targeted on similar iron-formation hosted hematite deposits.  However, the discovery of world-class ore deposits in Ontario (the Kidd Creek VMS deposit in 1964 and the Hemlo gold deposit in 1980) led to short periods of both base metal and gold mineral exploration in the Vermilion district.  To date, no lode gold and/or VMS ore bodies have been discovered in the Vermilion district, although abundant evidence exists that future exploration may result in the discovery of economically important deposits. 

Figure 1.  Geology of the Vermilion District (modified from Peterson and Jirsa, 1999) showing the location of the field course area (red box).

Field Course Instructors

The field course will be taught by a two geologists who have extensive experience in field studies and mineral prospecting of Archean terranes. In addition, other specialists will be invited to participate in the camp by spending time in the field and by giving evening presentations.

Dean Peterson, Ph.D. -
Senior Vice President of Exploration, Duluth Metals Ltd, Duluth, MN  and Associate Director, Precambrian Research Center, University of Minnesota Duluth.
Research Interests: Economic geology, geological mapping, Precambrian geology, mineral potential modeling, and three-dimensional modeling of ore systems. Dean has broad experience in geological mapping of rocks of all types, ages, and locations mainly through work with the mineral exploration industry in search of mesothermal-gold, epithermal-gold, volcanogenic massive sulfide, copper-nickel-PGE in the Duluth Complex, high-grade copper-PGE veins beneath the Sudbury Igneous Complex, and copper-gold-molybdenum porphyry deposits.

George Hudak, Ph.D., P. Geo., P.G. –
Senior Research Associate, Natural Resources Research Institute and Assistant Director, Precambrian Research Center, University of Minnesota Duluth
Research Interests: Field-based volcanic facies and hydrothermal alteration mineral facies mapping associated with Neoarchean VMS and epithermal gold deposits; variations in mineral chemistry across ancient submarine hydrothermal alteration zones; geochemistry of Precambrian volcanic rocks and associated hydrothermal alteration zones, and mineralization. George has extensive field mapping experience in greenstone-granite terranes throughout the Canadian Shield, including the Timmins, Sturgeon Lake and Geraldton-Beardmore camps in Ontario and the Vermilion District of Minnesota.

Course Schedule (preliminary)

Sunday, Oct. 21
9AM       Participants picked up in Duluth
11-12     Check in at Fortune Bay Resort & Casino
Noon      Lunch Buffet
1-5         Introductory Lectures
5-8         Banquet, Guest Lecture (TBA)

Monday, Oct. 22

7-8         Breakfast Buffet
8-5         Overview Field Trip of the Vermilion District
5-7         Cash Bar, Dinner Buffet
8-10       Introduction to Field Exercises and Choice of Prospect Areas    

Tuesday, Oct. 23 – Friday, Oct. 26

7-8         Breakfast Buffet
8-5         Field Mapping of Prospect Areas
5-7         Cash Bar, Dinner Buffet
7-10       Data compilation and review, strategy sessions

Saturday, Oct. 27
7-8         Breakfast Buffet
8-12       Work on Final Reports/Maps
Noon      Lunch Buffet
1-5         Final Reports presented to “Board”
5-7         Banquet

Sunday, Oct. 28

8-10       Participants driven to Duluth; End of Course


Registration for the complete field course is limited to 20 participants with preference given to PRC members*.  PRC members have until June 15th to register for the slots reserved according to their membership level.   After June 15th, all remaining slots will be accepted on a first come – first serve basis contingent upon receipt of the registration form and full payment of the field course fee.  After August 30, registration costs for any remaining slots will increase by $500. 

Field Course Registration     $4800  before 8/30/12
 $5300  after 8/30/12

Download Registration Form <here>

Field course registration includes:

  • Field course notebook and CD of Powerpoint lectures, handouts, and reprints
  • Field trip guidebook for the Vermilion District
  • All needed field equipment and mapping supplies
  • Certificate of attendance indicating contact hours
  • Van transport between Duluth and Fortune Bay and during field course
  • Single-room lodging at Fortune Bay Resort  (arrive 10/21; depart 10/28)
  • All meals from Sunday (10/21) lunch through Sunday (10/28) breakfast
Accommodations and Meals

All meals, lodging, and classroom activities will be held at the Fortune Bay Resort and Casino (1430 Bois Forte Rd., Tower, MN 55790,  (800) 992-7529).  Each participant will be given a   single room accommodation.   Most meals taken at the resort will be buffet-style.  Bag lunches will be provided during field days. 

Cancellation Policy

A full course refund will be given if notice of cancellation is received by Monday, October 1.  Program obligations make it necessary to assess a charge equal to one-quarter of the course fee ($1200) for later cancellations.  No course refund is possible after the course begins on October 21.

Arrival and Lodging in Duluth

Van transportation  between Duluth and  the Fortune Bay Resort and Casino will be available for interested participants.  Pick up on Sunday, Oct. 21 will be at about 9AM at a designated location in the downtown Duluth/Canal Park area.  Participants will be returned to Duluth on Sunday Oct. 28th by about 10AM.
Daily flights into Duluth International Airport are provided by Delta, United, and Allegiant Airlines with arriving from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Detroit, and Chicago.  Transportation from the airport to area hotels and motels is available by taxi at reasonable rates and some hotels provide shuttle service (check with your hotel). 
Participants seeking lodging and additional information about Duluth can call the Duluth Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-4-DULUTH (438-5884) or visit their website ( For additional information about Minnesota, call the Minnesota Office of Tourism at 888-TOURISM (868-7476) or visit their website at

For More Information

Field Course Information
        George Hudak  (, 218-720-4393 , or
Dean Peterson (, 218-491-7130
Registration, Lodging
        Julie Anne Heinz, 218-720-4272




Sericite Schist in Core

In the field

Sheared QFP