Were it not for the development of geophysical techniques applied to mine-finding, Canadian mining would never have attained the stature it has enjoyed. Because of this, the industry owes an enormous debt to C. Stanley Davidson. For Dr. Davidson, in the best tradition of the inventor, patched together from bits and pieces in an electrical shop at the Falconbridge complex a makeshift, but serviceable, electromagnetic unit. It was eventually to become the heart of his airborne EM systems.

Born in Montreal in 1900, Davidson received a B.Sc. in 1923 and an M.Sc. in 1925. He was later awarded a Ph.D. from Harvard.

In 1923, he began as mine surveyor and field engineer with the Mond Nickel Co. From 1927 to 1932, Davidson was chief geologist at the San Luis mine in Durango, Mexico. It was here that he began experimenting with geophysical instruments. After the stint in Mexico, he went to Inco in Sudbury. Thayer Lindsley later enlisted him as a consultant for Falconbridge.

It was in the early 1940s that he and a Falconbridge mine electrician built an electromagnetic device based on a description in a McGill University textbook. It successfully distinguished between magnetic anomalies from disseminated magnetite and anomalies from conductive sulphides. This resulted in the discovery of several Sudbury-area orebodies. He further refined this apparatus while consulting with Sherritt Gordon. This device aided in the discovery of the Lynn Lake deposits and later was used extensively by Sherritt.

While with Sherritt, he created a mobile electromagnetic unit pulled by snowmobiles or tractors. Davidson went on to develop an airborne electromagnetic system. This was the first operational airborne electromagnetic system ever constructed. With the backing of Inco and further developments to the system by their engineers in conjunction with McPhar Geophysics, this unit was used by Inco to discover the Heath Steele copper-lead-zinc deposit in New Brunswick and the Thompson nickel orebody in Manitoba.

However, it was Davidson’s pioneering of the airborne electromagnetic system that lead to the worldwide success of aerial geophysics.


James Gill secured a place in mining history through the exceptional success and staying power of Aur Resources.

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