Desktop studies completed in Step 3: Phase 1 - Desktop Studies and Engagement began the process of learning about rock characteristics using available geological maps and reports. Areas that may contain suitable bodies of rock were identified based on the findings of these studies. Step 3: Phase 2 - Field Studies and Engagement activities build upon this work. Their purpose is to visually observe key geological features in study areas. These observations will help build knowledge about the rock. They will also inform more detailed studies in the future.

The location and nature of the observations depend on the geological setting of the areas being studied, which includes crystalline rocks in northern Ontario or sedimentary rocks in southern Ontario. Field observations cover features such as bedrock type, the extent of bedrock exposure, the nature and characteristics of fractures (if any), evidence of seismic activities in the recent past, and specific features such as the occurrence of Karst (limestone dissolution in shallow rock formations) in sedimentary rocks.

NWMO staff and contractors make these observations over a period of several weeks depending on the size of the area and the number of features of interest. They travel on existing roads and trails, and may occasionally walk off these trails for short distances to explore specific features. It may be necessary to view some features from canoe or boat. The scope, locations and access for these activities are planned and conducted in collaboration with communities.

Planning for Future Studies

Geoscience experts will need several months to review the data and share findings with the community. Based on findings from this work, combined with data collected from other field studies such as geophysical surveys and earlier desktop studies, we will work with communities and First Nation and Métis communities in the area to develop plans for future studies.

This future work could include more geological and environmental mapping to observe the rock in more detail, and to begin to understand the environmental, spiritual, cultural, and social aspects of the land. This work will help us, and people in the area, identify and reflect upon locations where there is potential to host a repository. Eventually, borehole drilling may be planned in smaller areas that are identified as warranting more detailed study as potential repository sites.