Vancouver Campus

Project Information

  • Ore Deposit: Various
  • Commodity: Various
  • Research Themes: Exploration Tools
  • Project Status: Active
  • Researchers: Shaun Barker, Brian McNulty, Kate Rubingh, Cassady Harraden, Maria Alejandra Rodriguez Mustafa
  • Students: Filippo Maria Vescovi, Kyle Powers

MDRU has a proud history of scientific innovation and method development, including research on acceleration of carbon dioxide capture in mine tailings (LINK), developing new methods for analyzing stable carbon and oxygen isotopes in carbonate minerals using infrared spectroscopy (LINKS to studies) which have been adopted by the minerals industry. We are always innovating with new instrumentation and methods.

Our current method development projects are focussed on the following areas:

  • Automated Mineralogy From microXRF Data: Using our state-of-the-art Bruker TornadoPlus micro X-ray fluorescence instrument, our research team is developing new methods for extracting mineralogy and mineral chemistry automatically from micro X-ray fluorescence data hypercubes using various data analytics approaches and machine learning, and delivering data products that can be readily utilized by our members.


  • Automated Petrography and Mineralogy: MDRU has recently acquired a Zeiss Axioscan 7 Geo automated petrography system. This instrument provides exceptional quality “gigapixel” petrographic images in transmitted and reflected light from thin sections. We are working on new methods for extracting automated mineralogy (in a similar fashion to the type of data acquired using automated scanning electron microscopy instruments) from our Axioscan images. If successful, this approach could lower the cost of obtaining automated mineralogy data by an order-of-magnitude, and make quantitative mineralogy data readily accessible across the minerals industry. Visit our services page for details and enquiries.


  • Mineral Chemistry Using LIBS: As part of our BC Porphyry Research Project in collaboration with SciAps, we are working on data from portable LIBS (Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy) instrumentation to develop tools which will allow users to automatically identify mineralogy and mineral chemistry in a field setting. This project is led by MDRU postdoctoral researcher Cassady Harraden.


  • Improving U-Pb Geochronology Workflows: MDRU recognizes that U-Pb geochronology from zircons is a critical and routine tool utilized by the minerals industry. However, significant barriers still exist to acquiring U-Pb geochronology data, particularly related to zircon separation which remains challenging. MDRU has ongoing method development on new tools to improve zircon separation, and analytical tools to help identify and concentrate zircons as quickly and efficiently as possible to allow them to be more easily and rapidly analyzed in the laboratory.