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Big Nickel

A cache by Simrebel Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 10/7/2016
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size: other (other)

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Geocache Description:

The Big Nickel is located on the grounds of the Dynamic Earth science centre in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. The twelve-sided coin sits on a hill overlooking the intersection of Municipal Road 55 and Big Nickel Drive, at the westernmost end of the Gatchell neighbourhood.

Some of the questions you will need to take the underground tour here. There is a fee to take the tour

Dynamic Earth is open Seasonally from Beginning of March to end of September

and weekends in October for Halloween, Check out the website for details on Hours



1.85 billion years ago a meteorite from space struck the Earth in the area that is now known as Sudbury. The deep hole that it created is called the Sudbury Structure and can be seen from space.

The impact from the meteorite was many times more powerful than all of our nuclear weapons put together. Its strength allowed the Earth’s mantle fill the impact site with a thick sheet of melted rock. A subsequent shock wave shattered the surrounding rocks, riddling them with fissures and faults that were filled with precious minerals from the melted rock below.

Today, the Sudbury Basin produces hundreds of tonnes of nickel every year and has the biggest concentration of mines in the world.

Nickel is a naturally occurring element that exists in all soils and ranks 24th in the abundance of metals found in the Earth's crust. It is a hard, tough, greyish-white metallic element and is thought by experts to be essential for many plants, animals and humans. It has many desirable properties, including resistance to corrosion in both acidic and basic environments, high strength over a wide temperature range, and a pleasing appearance.

Nickel's earliest use was possibly as an unknown element in an ancient Chinese white metal alloy (paktong) used in tableware, candlesticks and other ornamental and household articles. The Swedish scientist Axel Cronstedt discovered the existence of nickel in 1751.

The major contemporary use for nickel is as an alloying agent. Nickel is present in some 3,000 different alloys that are used in more than 250,000 applications. The most popular alloy in which nickel is used is stainless steel  (see Iron and Steel Industry). Stainless steel usually contains between 8-10% nickel and accounts for nearly 70% of all nickel consumed in the world. Nickel-containing alloys are used in a wide variety of applications, including chemical and food-processing equipment, household goods, surgical equipment and aircraft engines, and is becoming the overwhelming choice for environmental equipment.

The presence of nickel and copper minerals near the present city of Greater Sudbury, Ontario, was known as early as 1856, but it was not until 1883, during construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, that the significance of the discovery was recognized. By 1890, most ore bodies in the district, comprising the world's largest source of nickel, had been located. In 1993, a large nickel deposit was discovered near Voisey Bay, Labrador. The Voisey Bay deposit is believed to contain over 100 million tonnes of nickel-, copper- and cobalt-containing ore and is thought by many to be the lowest-cost undeveloped nickel deposit in the world.

Canada is the world's second-largest producer of nickel (Russia is first). Other major producers are New Caledonia and Australia. Principal markets for Canadian nickel are the US, western Europe and Japan. Canada's domestic market accounts for less than 2% of world consumption. The principal Canadian producers are Inco Ltd and Falconbridge Ltd. Inco has integrated mine, mill, smelter and refinery operations in Sudbury, Ontario and Thompson, Manitoba. Falconbridge is also an integrated producer with mines, a mill and a smelter in Sudbury, Ontario and a refinery in Norway.

All nickel mines in Canada are sulfide-type deposits, most of which are mined underground as opposed to open cast. After the ore is mined, it is sent to the concentrator where it is crushed and the sulfide minerals concentrated by flotation. The concentrate is smelted to produce nickel matte, which is sent to a refinery where cathodes, anodes, pellets, powders and other products are made.

The Big Nickel is an exact replica of the 1951 Canadian nickel. It was built in 1964 and symbolizes the wealth that Sudbury has contributed to the Canadian economy through nickel production. The base enables the public to walk around the Big Nickel and under it. Access is barrier-free.

Big Nickel Fast Facts:

The Big Nickel is a replica of the 1951 Canadian five-cent coin, built in 1964 by local Sudburian Ted Szilva. Open to the public at no cost, visitors are invited to walk around the Big Nickel and explore the site of the Centennial Numismatic Park.

Big Nickel Fast Facts:

The Big Nickel is the largest coin in the world.

In the 1960's the Big Nickel was joined by four large coin monuments:

  • The Fantasy Penny
  • The Lincoln Penny
  • The Kennedy Half Dollar
  • The Twenty Dollar Gold Piece

These four monuments were dismantled in 1984.

The 1951 5-cent coin was minted to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the isolation and naming of the element Nickel.

The obverse, or 'heads' is King George VI. The reverse, or 'tails' is a stylized nickel refinery with one large stack. It is NOT the Sudbury superstack!

The Big Nickel weighs close to 13,000 kilograms (approximately 13 tonnes).

It is about 64,607,747 times the size of a real Canadian nickel.

Over the years, the composition of the 5-cent coin changed until one final change to the nickel was made in 1999.

Today’s 5-cent coin is 94.5% steel, 3.5% copper, and 2% nickel.

To claim the Earth cache please email me the answers to the follow questions:

*** Note some of the questions you can get answers from Dynamic Earth,  or they can be obtained on the Internet ***

A)  What is the Size of the Sudbury basin L,W,D 

B)  Besides Nickel what is the other major ore extracted here, and what are the some of the minor ore's

C) Describe the atmosphere while in the mine

D) Describe where the nickel is found in the mine, and how it got there

E) Describe the mining process for extracting the ore

F) Optional have a picture taken of you or your group in front of the Big Nickel 

There is a parking fee,  but if your just going in to visit the Big Nickel, and less then  1/2 hour they will refund it  for you 

While visiting the Big Nickel, be sure check out Dynamic Earth. It is an immersive, hands-on science centre that features earth science and mining experiences. The iconic experience - complete with a guided underground tour, multimedia theaters and engaging exhibits - entertains visitors of all ages in an interactive and educational setting.


This cache placed and maintained by an Ontario Geocaching Association Member This cache placed and maintained by an H-NAG Member

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