Program | Diamond Exploration and Research Training School

Program Aim

To create the next generation of highly qualified, better industry-prepared geoscientists to be diamond exploration geoscientists through an enhanced industry-based learning experience.

Training Program Outline

DERTS is a graduate student program for both the Master's and Doctoral levels. Students enrolled with DERTS will be trained in the use of the most advanced analytical instrumentation, modelling techniques and interpretation of geophysical data, all of which will be integrated with field-based geological training and education about the unique issues involved with working in Canada's North. The combined diamond/kimberlite expertise at the University of Alberta (U of A) and University of British Columbia (UBC) covers all areas associated with diamond exploration and research, facilitating training in all the key aspects associated with diamond exploration. A keen emphasis of the program will be on fieldwork, rock identification and core-logging-skills, which are essential skills sought by industry.

The cornerstones of the training program are:

    • Annual internships within the diamond mining and exploration industry. Students will spend a minimum cumulative 20% of their active program duration as interns embedded within industry. Additionally, national and regional geological surveys will provide opportunities for internships within the government sector.
    • Student-led introductory field course (alkaline rocks and mantle xenoliths of eastern BC/Alberta/Montana). This aspect of the program engages senior trainees in their 2nd or 3rd years to prepare field guides and deliver outcrop explanations for first-year students with aid from faculty supervision.
    • Joint industry/Government Survey/University field camps in Canada's North or overseas. The course will focus on field skills including mapping and interpretation of surficial glacial deposits and features plus till sampling methodologies. It will either be based at a company exploration camp, or at sites of diamond exploration interest, in the NWT/Nunavut.
    • Working with northern communities. Seminars will be delivered by industry, geological survey and academic professionals that explore the assessment and monitoring of the socio-economic and cultural effects of resource development with a focus on northern communities. A visit to a local aboriginal community and interaction with community elders will be part of the program.
    • Exploration drill core logging & kimberlite workshop. The course will take advantage of the world- class collections of kimberlite drill core housed at both UBC and U of A to provide intensive instruction and personal mentoring from industry and/or geological survey professionals.
    • Specialist theory courses. Industry and government specialists will deliver theory courses on indicator mineral chemistry, exploration geophysics, and use of microdiamonds in grade evaluation.
    • Annual DERTS/DCO/GIA/INDIMEDEA Diamond School. With support from the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) the annual International Diamond School will be held alternately between Canada and Italy. International leading scientists from the Diamonds and Mantle Geodynamics consortium will combine with industry scientists and students from the ERC-funded INDIMEDEA consortium to deliver state-of-the-art review talks about diamond geology and exploration. DERTS students will present their current research at this forum.
    • Additional technical short courses provided by professional bodies. DERTS trainees will be required to take at least 1 short-course provided by a professional body, such as the Society for Economic Geologists to fulfill their professional development training.


Research Areas and Objectives

DERTS research will focus on innovative research to better understand diamonds, their mantle substrates, and their host kimberlite magmas, that will impact diamond exploration and deposit evaluation.

The key research areas DERTS is focused on include:

  1. The theoretical and experimental understanding of diamond.
  2. Micro-macro diamond relations, geochemical testing for genetic relationships, to establish the method on a firmer basis, or to understand more completely its limitations.
  3. Indicator mineral discrimination of diamond based on new statistical and analytical techniques.
  4. Mapping the lithospheric mantle with xenoliths using traditional thermobarometry, advanced geotherm modelling and compositional trends in minerals.
  5. Petrological and geochemical methods to enhance discrimination of magma batches and volcanic facies.
  6. High precision kimberlite geochronology.
  7. Geophysical methods for diamond exploration and kimberlite delineation.
  8. Hyper spectral mapping of kimberlite ore-bodies.


Program Support

DERTS is an industrial stream Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program funded by Canada's Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). DERTS receives significant financial support from the University of Alberta.


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