Evaluation and Development of Granular Construction Materials In the Mackenzie Delta Region

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 70, No. 788, 1977

D. W. Hayley and N. R. MacLeod, EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta

The rapid expansion of exploration drilling with anticipated production facilities for oil and gas in the Mackenzie Delta region of the Northwest Territories has created a demand for granular construction materials. This paper discusses the technique adopted and experience gained by the authors from several major resource evaluation programs in this remote area. The first part of the paper describes a methodology for deposit identification, logistics of helicopter and ground-based drilling operations and the sampling difficulties which are unique to permafrost soils. The second part describes the exploitation of a large glaciofluvial deposit at Ya Ya Lake on Richards Island. Granular construction material is sparse in the delta region relative to projected demand. Exploitable sources of granular materials for aggregates or construction borrow are found in glaciofluvial deposits of Pleistocene age or in outcrops of Paleozoic bedrock. Glaciofluvial land-forms can be located by reference to published surficial geology maps coupled with airphoto interpretation. Preliminary assessment of these features in a large region is most economically carried out during the summer months with a drill that is transportable by helicopter. Once prospective borrow pit sites are identified, a detailed ground-based winter drilling program, must be undertaken to establish aggregate quality and quantity, and to provide information on natural features which could affect development. The glaciofluvial terrain has been highly modified by the formation of massive ground ice within the gravel deposits. This presents some unique pit development problems which are not encountered in a normal bedrock quarry operation.
Keywords: Industrial minerals, Granular materials, Construction materials, Aggregates, Mackenzie Delta region, Drilling, Exploration, Resource evaluation, Gravel, Permafrost, Soils.