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LITHOPROBE is a special national research project designed to probe the earth's crust and understand the geological evolution of Canada.

Its scientists are mapping over time and space (think 4-D) how various bits and pieces of ancient continents formed, collided and reorganized during the last 4 billion years to create the land we live on today, Canada.

This exploration of inner space is a pretty unique endeavor. No other nation has ever studied the evolution of a continent in such a focused way. Canada's vast geographic expanse and its diverse geological history provide an exceptional opportunity to study key issues in geology and the processes that shaped all of the earth.

Since LITHOPROBE's formation in 1984, more than 800 university, government and industry scientists have participated in the multidisciplinary geoscience project and published more than 1,100 research studies. When completed in 2003 the LITHOPROBE project will have a clearer idea how ancient continents, oceans and islands heaved and pitched together to make the geology of Canada.

LITHOPROBE also has created a bigger geological database and new knowledge that petroleum and mining companies can use when planning future exploration.

To date LITHOPROBE has gathered data from ten different study areas (what earth scientists call transects) across Canada. These transects span the country from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland and from the US border to the northern territories. The last transect region now being studied is the so-called Grenville belt in southern Ontario, part of the Abitibi-Grenville Transect. All of these study areas represent key geological events and processes, such as continental drift, that have helped shape the entire planet.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) jointly fund LITHOPROBE. Additional contributions derive from industry and provincial/territorial geological surveys. All of the project's data and interpretations are made available to the public via the nation's universities and the GSC.

For more general information on LITHOPROBE, contact Horst Heise at (403) 282-1404.

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