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Geology FAQs

  1. What is Geology?
    Geology is the primary science in the study of Earth Sciences. Geology involves exploring and investigating the Earth and its properties and resources in every dimension. Learn more at

  2.  What is ‘geologic time’?
    Geologic time traces Earth’s history in blocks of time such as eons, eras, periods, epochs. Geologic time is most often presented in a graph called a geologic time scale.

  3. How does geologic time link to Manitoba’s landscape? 
    Manitoba’s 650 000 km2 is underlain entirely by rocks of Precambrian age and sedimentary rocks deposited during the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras. View a Manitoba time scale here, and more about geological time here.

  4. What is the history of minerals in Manitoba?
    Find out more about Manitoba's rich minerals and mining history here.

  5. What’s the difference between ‘soft’ rock and ‘hard’ rock geology?
    ‘Hard’ rock geology focuses mainly on igneous and metamorphic rocks. Hard rock geologists work mostly with mineral deposits, mine development and bedrock mapping. Soft rock geology deals with sedimentary rocks where ‘sediment’ was formed through long exposure to the elements or glaciers. Soft rock geologists quite often work in the petroleum industry.

  6. Why are minerals and petroleum important for Manitoba?
    Manitoba minerals and petroleum represent the province's largest primary resource industry and the sector is a key contributor to Manitoba's ongoing economic growth. In 2017, the combined value of mineral production for metals, industrial minerals, and petroleum totalled about $2.5 billion. The industries employ an average of 6,200 workers directly, with many more in indirect jobs and generating millions of dollars in spin-off business.

  7.  What resources do Manitoba mines produce?
    Manitoba mines produce a variety of mineral resources from base and precious metals such as nickel, copper, zinc and gold and specialty metals like cesium. In addition, Manitoba’s industrial minerals include dolomite, spodumene, silver, gypsum, salt, granite, limestone, lime, sand and gravel. Find out more about Manitoba mining statistics.

  8. Where are industrial minerals located in Manitoba?
    Explore an interactive Manitoba map to discover whereminerals are found in the province.  

  9. Where are Manitoba’s main mining communities situated?
    Manitoba’s mining communities are situated throughout the province and include: the Town of Bissett, The City of Flin Flon, the Town of Lac du Bonnet, the Town of Leaf Rapids, the Town of Lynn Lake, the Town of Snow Lake, and the City of Thompson.

  10. Where can I get information on oil and gas resources in Manitoba?
    Explore Manitoba Oil Facts to learn all about petroleum in the province.

  11. Do a lot of companies explore for minerals in Manitoba?
    Yes. Exploration is an ongoing and important factor in mineral resource development.

  12. Where can I find more detailed information about Manitoba mineral resources and petroleum?
    A good place to start is on the home page of the Manitoba Resource Development Division.

  13. What’s the best way for me to learn more about careers in mining and minerals?
    Hey! You’ve come to the right place...check out Opportunity Rocks!

Geo-Glossary: Geological and Mining Terms


In construction, rock fragments that range from sand-sized grains to gravel-sized.


A compound of two or more metals, usually produced by fusion.


A rectangular plate of copper (or other metal) cast in a shape suitable for electro-refining.


A caramel-like hard or solid form of petroleum.


Portion of the mantle of the Earth that is non-rigid and able to flow.


Gaseous mass surrounding Earth’s surface.


The cutting edge of a boring instrument. In rock drilling, it is frequently made with ultra-hard material such as diamonds or tungsten carbide.


A semi-solid form of petroleum with a molasses-like texture.

Blast hole

A hole drilled for the purpose of blasting rather than for exploration or geological information.


A rectangular plate of metal produced by electrolytic refining which is melted into commercial shapes such as wirebars, billets, ingots, etc.

Cementation Stage

A stage in the formation of sedimentary rock in which the grains of rocks or minerals become fixed.


Natural materials composed of very small mineral particles which can be molded when wet.


Property of a mineral that allows it to split along crystal planes.


Black combustible rock consisting mainly of carbon derived from ancient compressed layers of organic vegetation.

Compression Stage

A stage in the formation of sedimentary rock that occurs when sediments are pressed together by the weight of overlaying layers.


A product containing the valuable metal from which most of the waste material in ore has been eliminated.


A particular type of milling plant that produces a concentrate of valuable minerals or metals. After milling, the concentrate must be treated in another type of plant, such as a smelter, to effect recovery of pure metal.


Substances, typically metals and metallic minerals, which allow heat and electricity to pass through them easily.


The central region or nucleus of the Earth which is divided into an inner and outer core. The inner core is thought to be solid and the outer is thought to be liquid. ‘Core’ is also a term used in mining to describe a long cylinder of rock, recovered through drill sampling.


Oil that comes straight out of the ground as a liquid. Crude can come in a range of compositions and colours.


A machine used for crushing rock.


The outermost layer or shell of the Earth which varies from 6 to 60 kilometres in depth/thickness.


A solid mass such as a mineral, determined by its atomic structure. A single crystal growing without interference has flat faces and such crystals are highly valued. Others crystals growing with interference, such as crystals of quartz found in granite, will not have perfect form/flat faces.


A mineral form of the element ‘carbon’. Clear varieties are valued as gems.

Drift (or Drive)

A mining term for a horizontal passage underground that follows along the length of a vein or rock formation.

Earth Science

The study of Earth and all of its materials both above and below the Earth’s surface.


The basic building block of ‘matter’.


The breaking down and subsequent removal of either rock or earthy surface material by the forces of nature.


Invaluable minerals associated with valuable minerals, contained within an ore deposit.


The study of the planet Earth, specifically its properties, and the related science, history, research and exploration of how and where those properties developed over time.


A layered or banded crystalline metamorphic rock whose grains are aligned or elongated into a roughly parallel arrangement.


A common igneous rock.


An unconsolidated or loose natural accumulation of rounded rock fragments which are coarser than sand.

Hardness Scale

A scale used to measure the hardness of any mineral material, also referred to in geology as the Mohs' Scale.


A mineral composed of iron oxide.


Chemical compounds of the elements, hydrogen and carbon.


A term referring to the waters of the Earth.

Igneous Rock

‘Extrusive’ igneous rock is rock formed as a result of magma being forced out of the Earth’s crust and hardening on the surface. ‘Intrusive’ igneous rock is rock formed as a result of magma solidifying within the Earth’s crust.

Industrial Minerals

A group of minerals and rocks, largely non-metallic, that are of economic value (e.g., gravel, sand, clay, potash, building stone).

Inorganic matter

Materials that are not derived from living organisms.


Magma forced through volcanic action to the Earth’s surface.


The solid outermost shell of the Earth.


A description of the manner in which light reflects from a mineral surface.


Molten rock formed in the interior of the Earth.


The ability of a mineral to be attracted to a magnet.


The layer of the Earth's interior which separates the crust and core.


A mining term referring to the product of a smelter (metal with some contained sulphur) which must be further refined to obtain the pure metal.


The various methods of preparing metals for use by separating them from their ores.

Metamorphic Rock

Rock that has been altered by heat, pressure, or hot molten rock (such as magma) from the Earth's interior.


A scientist whose primary study is to examine the properties of minerals.


Naturally occurring chemical elements or compounds with a crystal-like structure.

Natural Resource

Any raw material which may be used to meet human needs.

Non-Renewable Resource

A resource of Earth, which once extracted, cannot be replaced within a human's lifetime.


A natural concentration of minerals which can be mined and can render profitability.


A complex mixture of chemicals, containing both oil and gas, made up of the elements hydrogen and carbon (combined as chemical compounds called hydrocarbons).


Potassium salts found in sedimentary rocks.


A person who searches for mineral deposits.


A bright brass-yellow mineral often called ‘Fool’s Gold’ and made up of the elements iron and sulphur.


The reclaiming and reuse of materials and lands which were once part of a mining operation.

Renewable Resource

A resource that can be replaced within a human lifetime.


In mining, the treatment of ore by heat and air, or oxygen-enriched air, in order to remove sulphur and arsenic.

Rock Cycle

A sequence of events explaining how rock can change (e.g., from sedimentary rock to metamorphic rock).

Rock Quarry

A surface pit site for the extraction of rock.

Sedimentary Rock

Rock formed during the compression and cementation staged of loose sediments (e.g. sandstone) or by deposition from a solution (e.g. salt).


A term used to describe any phenomena related to vibrations caused by earthquakes.


A vertical or inclined excavation for the purpose of opening and servicing a mine.


Very fine particles of rock fragments between sand and clay sizes, which are often carried by moving water and deposited as sediment.


The vitreous mass separated from fused metals in the smelting process.


An excavation in a mine from which ore is being extracted, or has been extracted.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is the development of industry and natural resources in such a way as not to damage the ability of future generations to meet their basic needs for food, shelter, products, etc. (see The Green Mining Initiative Video)


Material which is rejected from a mill after the recoverable valuable minerals have been extracted.


Mineral which may fill or comprise a crack in a rock, or masses of rock which occupy fissures in other rocks. Veins may have originated in many different ways and can present a great variety of forms and structures. They are often classified in three groups: (i.) veins of igneous rock, (ii.) of sedimentary, and (iii.) of minerals deposited by water or by gases.


Barren rock in a mine, or minerals which are considered too low in grade to be of economic value.