[Ontario Geological Survey] These ‘detectives’ dig deep – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – June 7, 2016)


Ask Jack Parker what the Ontario Geological Survey has contributed to life in Sudbury and he’ll tell you it’s a long story, 125 years long.

Parker is acting director of the agency established in 1891 as the Ontario Bureau of Mines. It was renamed the OGS in 1978. In a century and a quarter, its geologists and geoscientists have published 10,000 maps and almost 6,000 reports, and every one of them is available to the public online.

A geologist who started with what was then the Ontario division of mines in 1977, Parker was named acting director of the OGS in December 2015 with the retirement of former director Andy Fyon. The OGS collects and documents information about Ontario’s geology. It conducts bedrock mapping of exposed rock, and maps deposits of sand and gravel left by glaciers.

Its geochemists conduct surficial surveys, and sample sediment and water from lakes and streams. The OGS maps rocks more than 2.5 billion years old, as well as limestone that’s a scant 500 million years old.

More and more today, OGS geologists are mapping, including 3-D mapping, sub-surfaces of areas to try to locate aquifers. They do aggregate resource mapping, as well.

The work OGS geologists do is often confused with that of the mineral exploration industry because they collect much of the same information, but it is doing it for the public of Ontario, not private enterprise.

That’s one of the things Parker enjoys about the work he has been doing for 32 years — “serving the public and contributing to the province, making a contribution through my work.”

Geology has changed a good deal since 1891, largely because of technology. In the early days, geologists traversed land by foot and canoed along shorelines, relying on compasses and the sun for direction, and extrapolating about the rock types beyond their line of vision.

“A lot of times they were never sure where they were,” said Parker, “but they did an incredible job. I don’t know how they did it back then.”

Geology was basic, observations about rock types, sampling and looking for interesting features. There was no airborne geophysics like today where geologist fly over areas with equipment that measures rock properties such as magnetism and density to interpret what is under lakes and muskeg.

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