Safety and Environmental Benefits

While Minerals Play Fairway’s main focus is to help find mineral deposits and attract investment to the province, there are several other ways in which Nova Scotians would benefit from the geophysical survey program detailed in the Minerals Play Fairway report:

  • There are many different types of chemical and physical geohazards in Nova Scotia that have the potential to place the public and infrastructure at risk. The 2018 sinkhole in Oxford’s Lions Club park is an example. Deadly radon gas is another. The data from Minerals Play Fairway could be used to help identify potential geohazards and protect Nova Scotians from them.
  • Airborne magnetic surveys, such as those included in Minerals Play Fairway, can help identify bedrock prone to producing acid rock drainage (ARD). Typically in Nova Scotia, ARD occurs when pyrite and other sulphide minerals are exposed to water and oxygen, and react in a chemical oxidation process that releases sulphuric acid and metal oxides into watercourses downstream. This can harm the environment (i.e. runoff can harm aquatic life); human and animal health (i.e. contamination of drinking water); and infrastructure (i.e. corrosion of concrete foundations and bridges, metal culverts and pipes, and buried wiring). With greater knowledge of where sulphide-bearing bedrock is located, we can either avoid disturbing it or manage disturbance to prevent ARD.
  • Geophysical data can also be used to help find and delineate aquifers. Increasing our knowledge of Nova Scotia’s aquifers would help improve water management, especially given potential impacts on our water supply caused by climate change.
  • Geophysical surveys are a non-invasive way of finding buried evidence of past human activities and are therefore helpful in archeology and preserving our history.
  • The geophysical data generated by the Minerals Play Fairway could also help identify potential deposits of onshore oil and gas and complement the Department of Energy and Mines’ recent Nova Scotia's Onshore Petroleum Atlas project (2013-2017).

Improving our geological knowledge of the province would lead to improved safety, economic opportunities and better land, water and environmental management.


The 2018 sinkhole in Oxford reminded Nova Scotians how geohazards can impact our safety and daily lives. The sinkhole in Oxford’s Lions Club park is believed to be the result of an underground gypsum or salt deposit eroding in water and leaving a cavern under the park. Soft rocks like these are prone to this sort of erosion and sinkholes are often caused by caverns caving in as a result.

It is important that we continue to improve our understanding of potential geohazards to protect Nova Scotians and our infrastructure.


Radon is a naturally-occurring gas produced by the decay of uranium, which is found in all rocks and soils in Nova Scotia. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking.

Radon causes an estimated 114 lung cancer deaths in Nova Scotia each year. We need to do a better job identifying potential sources of radon so we can reduce exposure to it and to uranium in well water. Minerals Play Fairway would help.