Collection Data

Page Contents: Section | Significance | Background | Location & Dates | Taxonomic Contents | Documentation | Description of Collection | Collection Inventory | Collection Assets

Island Copper Mine, University of Victoria 1983–1996

Section Responsible for Processing



The historical importance of this collection is to provide time series of benthic samples from 26 stations in a fjord complex on northern Vancouver Island during and after a large open pit copper mine dumped fine tailings in to the fjord.


The project was funded by Broken Hills Proprietory and Aussie Limited (BHP) for environmental effects monitoring as part of their mining operations. Island Copper Mine (ICM) was owned by BHP Mineral Canada their Canadian division. The principal investigator for the benthic collection was Dr. Derek Ellis. The samples were previously held at various times by Dr. Ellis and the University of Victoria, BHP, and the lead taxonomist Val Macdonald. There are annual reports produced by the BHP showing the biological, physical and chemical data collected during the monitoring as well as published papers and theses. The collection was brought to NHMLAC by Leslie Harris and Derek Ellis between 1997 and 1999.

Collection Location and Dates

Each station was sampled 1975, 1983-1993, 1995 and 1996. The Royal British Columbia Museum (RBCM) has the samples taken in 1997 and 1998.

All samples are from soft bottom subtidal grabs.

Taxonomic Contents

The collection consists of an estimated 10,000-20,000 specimens representing more than 1000 species. These include taxa from a wide range of phyla with emphasis on a large numbers of opportunistic polychaete specimens.

The specimens were originally fixed in 5-10% formalin and were subsequently transferred to 70% ethanol.


Burd, B.J. 2002. Evaluation of mine tailings effect on a benthic marine infaunal community over 29 years. marine Environmental Research 53:481-519.

Ellis, D.V., and V.I. MacDonald. 1998. Rapid preliminary assessment of seabed biodiversity for the marine and coastal mining industries. Marine Georesources and Geotechnology 16:307-319.

Ellis, D.V. 2000. Effect of mine tailings on the biodiversity of the seabed: Example of the Island Copper Mine, Canada. In Seas at the Millennium: An Environmental Evaluation. C. Sheppard, ed. Vol. 3, Chapter 123. The Netherlands: Elsevier, 235-246.

Ellis, D.V. 2002. Seabed biodiversity at Island Copper Mine: Impact and recovery. In Underwater tailing placement at Island Copper Mine. Poling, G.W. et at., ed. Chapter 8. Society for mining, metallurgy and Exploration, Inc.

Data sheets and other published reports are located in the NHMLAC Polychaete Office.

Description of Collection

This collection is presently located in the NHMLAC Polychaete Collection Room. The collection has been consolidated into about 413 jars on 4 banks of compactor shelves.

The specimens were originally fixed in 5-10% formalin and were subsequently transferred to 70% ethanol.

Samples are in glass vials and are identified to the lowest taxonomic level (mostly species). Lots are in jars organized by year, station, and replicate.

Collection Inventory

This collection is comprised of lots from the 1986 through 1996 surveys. Only the 1994 survey is not available. There are approximately 413 jars of identified invertebrates, each jar containing anywhere from 3-50 lots each.

Collection Assets

Date View or Retrieve File Information
11/15/2001 View [1066.5 kB] Samples located in Polychaete Collection Room.
11/15/2001 View [898.8 kB] Samples with low alcohol levels.
09/04/2001 View [1427.1 kB] Map of seabed monitoring stations.
09/04/2001 View [828.6 kB] Names of sampling stations.

Curatorial Status (Click to view)