Smiling HES members by large $49,269,000 cheque from the Government of Canada to Laurentian University.

MERC is the exploration geoscience centre focused on Precambrian ore systems research, education, and exploration methodology and targeting.

To conduct and promote cutting-edge, field-based, collaborative research on mineral deposits and their environments, and to educate and train highly qualified personnel (HQP) for careers in the minerals industry, academia or government.

MERC is a semi-autonomous research centre at Laurentian University (LU) that was established by the LU Senate in 1997, it is affiliated with the Harquail School of Earth Sciences (HES), and comprises an internationally recognized group of researchers from academia, industry and government. MERC has >75 faculty, research scientists, and graduate students working on mineral deposits, Precambrian geology, and exploration methodology and targeting, all housed within offices and labs of the Willet Green Miller Mines and Minerals Research Centre on the LU campus. MERC is governed by an Advisory Board comprised of industry, government and academic leaders. Learn more about the Advisory Board.

MERC research projects are supported by Canadian and international mining companies, the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Geological Survey of Canada, provincial and territorial geological surveys and other agencies. The research projects are global, and address fundamental ore deposit problems and technology and method development that aid exploration in Precambrian and younger terrains. Over the last ten years, MERC’s annual research funding has exceeded $1 M. MERC provides modular courses, short courses and workshops aimed at graduate and undergraduate students from across Canada and globally, and for professional development. Learn more about courses and programs.

MERC Resources

Resources that aid research and that are available to our members include:

  • The John Gammon Mines Library of the Ontario Geological Survey
  • Four state of the art Laboratory Facilities within the Willet Green Miller centre:

    The Geo-Fingerprinting Lab is joint LU-OGL trace element and isotopic geochemical laboratory that houses a state-of-the-art Quadrupole Laser Ablation ICP-MS Thermo Electron X Series II for trace element and isotope analysis. Utilizing a fully automated in situ analysis via ArF excimer laser ablation (Resonetic Resolution M-50 193 nm probe) permitting analysis of trace elements at ppb level. The facility can also perform U/Pb zircon dating on 25 micron spot sizes. Zircon can be prepared for analysis mounting and mapped with SEM based cathodoluminescence in the LU Central Analytical Facility. 


    The Solid Phase Section of the LU Central Analytical Facility contains 1) a JEOL JSM-6400 scanning electron microscope equipped with a Oxford Instruments INCA EDS system, 2) a Cambridge S-250 scanning electron microscope with electron backscatter diffraction and cathodoluminescence detectors, 3) an Enraf Nonius Diffractus X-ray generator used for single grain work with Gandolfi and Debye-Scherrer cameras, and 4) a Philips PW-1710 Powder X-ray diffractometer used for mineral identification often in conjunction with Rietveld Analysis.

    Fluid Inclusion laboratory

    The Ontario Geoscience Labs is a state-of-the-art major and trace element laboratory operated by the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, which MERC researchers utilize under a special access agreement.The facility has extensive analytical equipment including full sample preparation facilities, multiple AAS, ICP-OES, and ICP-MS instruments, an XRF spectrometer, excellent SEM facilities, Cameca X50 and Cameca SX100 electron probe microanalyzers, and complete petrographic and image analysis facilities. For a complete listing of the analytical facilities within the Geolabs please refer to www.mndm.gov.on.ca/mndm/mines/labs.

  • Teaching and research laboratories, and access to research petrographic microscopes, video conference/teaching facilities, and the MIRACO 4-D Virtual Realty Laboratory.

Faculty and students pose in a large black and grey rock formation at Mauna Ulu, Hawaii