The aeromagnetic survey operations of the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) began in 1946, utilizing a magnetometer in a bird system towed by a Royal Canadian Air Force Anson. Subsequent early operations were carried out by the GSC-operated Canso and Aero Commander aircraft. In 1961, the GSC in-house survey team formed the nucleus of a contract surveys group set up to monitor a new program established to complete the aeromagnetic mapping of the Canadian Shield in 12 years on a cost-sharing basis with the provinces. Today, surveys are carried out under contract by light twin-engine aircraft such as the Cessna 404 and even, in some cases, single-engine aircraft that utilize compact computer-controlled data acquisition and navigation systems and inboard magnetometer installations. Early systems were capable of resolution of only a few nanoteslas (nT) compared to the current standard of 0.1 nT or less, and flight path positioning with 35 mm film and photomosaics or topographical maps was extremely challenging. Despite these limitations, the careful selection of survey parameters and attention given to quality control have resulted in a world-class aeromagnetic data base that has contributed significantly to regional geological mapping and to mineral and oil exploration in Canada. Concurrently, the GSC carried out research programs into the development of instrumentation and into processing, interpretation, and enhancement techniques. In 1968, the GSC acquired its own platform, a Beechcraft B80 Queenair, which was used to develop high-sensitivity techniques, and an inboard gradiometer system, which was transferred to private industry in 1983. The GSC, in cooperation with the Flight Research Laboratory of the National Research Council of Canada, has also conducted a program of research into magnetometry and navigation combined with aeromagnetic studies of the Arctic since 1962.

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