Mission and Goals of the
Precambrian Research Center

PRC logo



The Precambrian Research Center (PRC) is a new research institute being established at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) as an integrated teaching and research center focused on geological mapping of Precambrian rocks. The PRC is a result of an identified and urgent, long-term need within the private and public sectors of the geological community, both locally and internationally, for geoscientists skilled in geological mapping and the study of Precambrian geology. Ancient shield areas that form the cores of the present-day continents are important scientifically in terms of early Earth history and crustal evolution, and they are extremely important to global society because they host a very large percentage of the world's ore deposits. For more a more complete description of the rationale behind the creation of the PRC, see the introductory remarks in the PRC business plan.


A primary mission of the PRC is to address the new demand for professional field geologists by providing training and support to upper-level undergraduate students, graduate students, and professional geologists in modern methods of geological mapping and map-making in glaciated Precambrian terrains. The concept for such a center evolved as a result of collaboration between three geosciences institutions within the University of Minnesota system - the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI), Minnesota Geological Survey (MGS), and UMD Department of Geological Sciences. Field and visualization training will be provided by a consortium of professional field geologists and University of Minnesota faculty (from NRRI, MGS, and UMD) in addition to geosciences faculty from other Midwest colleges and universities. The PRC will also provide a vehicle for synergistic collaboration between the public sector and private industry.

Our conceptual model for the PRC has received very strong support from the geological community in the US and Canada, including executives and geoscientists within the minerals industry, geological surveys, geological societies, and academia. The PRC will be guided by an advisory board of industry and academic geoscientists to assist the PRC in meeting its initial goals and to provide advice on how best to meet the future needs of the applied geosciences. Initial funding for the PRC is provided by the State of Minnesota, the University of Minnesota, and several private companies.

Goals and Objectives

The principal goals of the PRC are:

  • to provide advanced training for upper level undergraduate students, graduate students, and professional geologists in advanced techniques and modern methods of mapping and map-making in glaciated Precambrian terrains
  • to attract and provide financial assistance to outstanding students who have an interest in conducting field-oriented graduate research at UMD on Precambrian geology of the Lake Superior region
  • to assist PRC-trained students in finding employment in the public and private sector
  • to educate the greater geological community and the general public about the geology and mineral resources of Precambrian terranes

The PRC will accomplish these goals through five basic programs:

  1. Summer Precambrian geology field camp in northeastern Minnesota
  2. Student research assistantships and grants
  3. Professional workshops and field experiences
  4. Upper level geology courses at UMD
  5. Additional education, outreach, mentoring, and student career planning activities

The primary beneficiaries of the PRC’s programs will be:

  • Geology Students – through training in highly marketable field mapping skills and education in other topics related to Precambrian geology and through financial support of graduate and undergraduate research projects;
  • Minerals Industry – through continuing education opportunities in advanced topics related to field mapping and map-making, through collaborations and partnerships with public-sector geoscientists, and through access to a pool of students who are well-trained in field methods and related subjects important to mineral exploration;
  • Geological Surveys – through collaborations in mapping activities throughout the Lake Superior region and through access to field-trained students who will be needed to replenish and possibly grow aging survey staffs;
  • University of Minnesota – through the creation of a high quality educational program with strong financial support that will enhance the already exemplary reputation UMD has within the global geoscience community for producing field-savvy students and that will attract new graduate and undergraduate students to UMD’s geology program; and
  • State of Minnesota – through developing public-private partnerships between the state university and the minerals and mining industries that will grow jobs in the state in an environmentally responsible manner.