Engineers and geoscientists at JDMA have extensive experience analyzing earth processes and environments to identify landforms, earth materials, hazards and ground conditions for a variety of natural resource and infrastructure development sites. These include sites for hydro dams and reservoirs, coal-fired power plants, industrial minerals development (potash, sodium sulphate), base metal and precious metal mines (gold, diamonds), pulp mills, northern town sites and airstrips, solid and liquid waste disposal sites, First Nations reserves, national parks, hospitals and schools.
Site suitability studies usually begin with stereo air photo recognition and mapping of glacial, fluvial, lacustrine, marine, wind, gravity and bedrock landforms, and with the inferred kinds of earth materials in them and the geological processes and depositional environments that created them. Geologic, topographic (increasingly based on LiDAR data) and soil maps are obtained and interpreted to guide these studies. Sites are usually visited in the field to confirm and help characterize surface conditions, and to recommend follow-up geotechnical or other field investigations.
Dams and reservoirs stand out because of they are often located at sites with complex geological histories, physical environments and materials. Altogether, 52 proposed dam sites have been mapped and assessed from air photos, with most visited in the field by JDMA staff. Dams have subsequently been constructed at many of the studied sites and have been in operation for several decades. Most noteworthy among them are dam and reservoir sites along Canada’s main river systems, including the Columbia, Fraser, Duncan and Iskut systems in British Columbia; the North and South Saskatchewan, Brazeau, Battle, Paddle, Peace, Athabasca, Oldman and Red Deer in Alberta; the North and South Saskatchewan, Churchill and Souris in Saskatchewan; the Churchill and Nelson systems in Manitoba; the Albany and three other large rivers in northern Ontario; the Wreck Cove Brook hydro system of connected lakes in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; and the Lower Churchill River in Labrador and Newfoundland.
In terms of numbers of sites that have been studied by our engineers and geoscientists, Saskatchewan, First Nation reserves top the list. Most studies were made for aggregate location, housing and transportation infrastructure development on 67 reserves: 43 located in northern Saskatchewan and 24 in southern Saskatchewan. Many other resource and infrastructure site selection studies for hospitals, schools, transportation systems, town sites and National Park boundaries have been completed by JDMA staff across Canada.