Poster at AGU meeting, San Francisco: Astrid
crater, near Bridgetown, NS
Ian Spooner and Rob Raeside attended the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco in early December, where they presented a poster of a research project that has been undertaken by most of the members of the department. The poster documents the discovery of an impact crater on the South Mountain, south of Bridgetown, likely formed by a meteorite or comet impact about 12,000 years ago. While the oval crater is well documented from magnetic, ground penetrating radar, and topographical features, its confirmation as an impact structure came from mineralogical analysis of ejecta and surrounding rocks. Its preservation indicates a post-glacial origin and, interestingly, an inorganic layer found in lake sediment records elsewhere in Nova Scotia may represent the sudden input of sediment from such an event. Woody material above the inorganic layer dates to 12,504 BP.
The poster attracted much attention at the conference, because a recently released paper postulates that a globally felt impact at 12,900 BP was responsible for the extinction of the Ice Age megafauna and possibly even the Clovis culture of people in North America. This impact has (had?) no known associated structure, and much interest surrounded the Astrid crater at Bridgetown as a possible component of this event.
18 December 2007
New cathodoluminesce equipment set up in E&ES
Dr. Peir Pufahl took delivery of a new cathodoluminescence (CL) microscope at the end of November. CL is the phenomenon whereby light is emitted by a material when it is impacted by an electron beam and is used to study the structure within materials. When combined with a petrographic microscope, the texture of a rock can be viewed simultaneously with CL and light. Here Peir is checking out the optics of the system.
A full view of the system can be seen in this photo
29 November 2007
Gabe Nelson winner of best poster at GSA meeting (Denver)
Graduate student Gabe Nelson was awarded the best poster in sedimentology at the recent Geological Society of America conference in Denver, Colorado. His poster, entitled "Shallow-water Phosphorite Accumulation in the Paleoproterozoic Baraga Group, Michigan, USA" documents his findings in his MSc thesis, under the supervision of Dr. Peir Pufahl.
21 November 2007
Kara-Lynn Scallion winner of AUGC poster award
Honours student Kara-Lynn Scallion shared the award of the best poster at the recent Atlantic Universities Geological Conference, held at St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS. Her poster, entitled "Phosphate Deposits in Cambrian Rocks of Avalonia in the Saint John Area, New Brunswick" documents her initial studies using field mapping and scanning electron microscopy to identify the source of these phosphatic rocks.
In the oral communications, Tim Cross also did a fine job reporting on the his findings from his summer (winter?) job and honours thesis, "Lithogeochemical vectors toward gold mineralization in the Amaranth Vein, Waihi, New Zealand".
5 November 2007
On October 28, 2007 Mary Samolczyk, and Environmental Science student, won the best student paper prize at the Atlantic Universities Geological Conference at Dalhousie University in Halifax. The title of Mary's presentation was "Uranium and Arsenic in Ground Water in Grand Pré, Nova Scotia: An Interdisciplinary Study", and was co-authored with supervisors Drs. Ian Spooner and Cliff Stanley, and Professor Linda Lusby. Mary is studying the trace metal concentrations in well waters of the Grand Pré area because recent changes to environmental regulations in Nova Scotia mean that some of the waters in the Grand Pré area are no longer in compliance with the maximum allowable concentration regulations. Congratulations, Mary!
1 November 2007
Duke of Edinburgh Award winner: Katherine Dugas
Katherine Dugas was one of four final-year Acadia students who received a Duke of Edinburgh Award (Gold level) from HRH Prince Edward at a recent ceremony in Halifax. Katherine is second from the left in this photo, and is accompanied by Kathryn Cleveland, Christina Swett and Mary Jane Tingley.
To earn the award she completed at least 60 hours of community service over twelve months, 50 hours of physical activity over 25 weeks, an expedition of four days/3 nights, learned a new skill for twelve months and a residential project. The residential project is completed over at least a week working with people you have not interacted much with before. Some of the activities she undertook were referee in basketball, cross country running, track & field, volunteer leader with the Girl Guides of Canada, a canoe trip in Kejimkujik National Park and Tidal Impact.
18 October 2007
Nelson O'Driscoll - Acadia's newest Canada
Acadia University is pleased to announce that Dr. Nelson O'Driscoll has been named a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Natural Sciences and Engineering by the Canada Research Chairs Program. Nelson's appointment as the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Biogeochemistry was recently announced in Calgary by the Secretary of State Diane Ablonczy on behalf of Jim Prentice, minister of industry and minister responsible for the Canada Research Chairs Program. "Building a larger base of scientific expertise and enhancing Canada's international reputation for research excellence are key elements of Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's Advantage, our government's new Science and Technology Strategy," said the Honourable Diane Ablonczy. "Our Government recognizes the importance of doing more to help transform and commercialize scientific and technological innovations. This in turn will help create better jobs, increase economic growth and improve our quality of life."
Dr. O'Driscoll is studying the impact of climate change on mercury contamination in freshwater ecosystems by analyzing the effects of temperature, precipitation, and solar radiation on the contaminant. He hopes his research will contribute to the development of effective measures to reduce exposure to this contaminant as climate change occurs. "This is an important area of research for Canada as we have lots of fish and lots of mercury in our freshwater systems," explained O'Driscoll, who has published a book on mercury levels in the Kejimkujik Park ecosystem, which are the highest in Canada. "Understanding the relationship between climate change and the long-term activity and effects of environmental contaminants is crucial for the well-being of both human and animal populations," he said.
21 September 2007
Linda Lusby invited to Trudeau Foundation conference
Department head Linda Lusby received an invitation to attend an upcoming conference of the prestigious Trudeau Foundation on "A Climate of Reconciliation: Economy, Social Justice and the Environment" in Calgary in November. This is a considerable honour for Linda, who may be the first person from Acadia invited to attend a Trudeau Foundation conference. More information can be found about the Foundation or about the conference.
10 September 2007
Acadia faculty and students discover Ancient Sudbury meteorite
by Margaret Munro CanWest News Service, published in StarPhoenix (Saskatoon), the Montreal Gazette, Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald, The Province (Vancouver), The Vancouver Sun, the Times Colonist (Victoria), and the Amherst Daily News.
A mountain-sized meteorite appears to have created Sudbury's gigantic crater and sent a tsunami racing though ancient oceans, say scientists who have uncovered a thick layer of debris the extraterrestrial interloper hurled all the way into Michigan. A Canadian-U.S. team says the two-to-four-metre-thick layer of "ejecta," which they found south of Lake Superior, bears the clear signature of a meteorite. Perhaps even more intriguing, they say the "ejecta" appears to have been stirred up by a "mega-tsunami," possibly two, that swept through the ancient oceans after the space rock hit. "The material blown out of the crater was reworked during deposition by a tsunami," says Peir Pufahl, lead author of a report on the find in the September editions of the journal Geology. He says shock waves generated by the impact of the meteorite, believed to have been about the size of Mount Everest, would have been powerful enough to generate giant waves in nearby oceans. "We also get beautiful rock preserved in tear drops just as you'd expect if you had molten rock flying through the atmosphere and it cooled," Pufahl said in a interview. The Sudbury crater, the second largest ever found, was formed 1.85 billion years ago and is much bigger than the one linked to the demise of the dinosaurs. Some have suggested a comet carved out the crater, which originally measured up to 280 kilometres in diameter. But the material uncovered in northern Michigan points to a meteorite, since it contains an unusually high concentration of iridium, which occurs in low amounts in icy comets but in high levels in space rocks. The "ejecta layer," which the geologists found buried a kilometre underground south of Lake Superior, builds on similar evidence uncovered near Thunder Bay, Ont., a few years ago. The newly found material not only contains high levels of iridium and "melt drops" but also "shocked" crystals deformed by the intense energy, and evidence of reworking by a tsunami, the team reports. The impact of the meteorite would have been felt globally but most of the evidence has eroded away over time. "It's like a book with 90 per cent of pages missing," says Pufahl. He says the huge cloud of gas and molten rock hurled into the atmosphere would have put photosynthesis on hold for an extended period and may be linked to a "long lull" in the evolution of early life. Computer models have estimated the space rock could have been close to 20 kilometres across and travelling 20 kilometres a second, or 1,200 kilometres a minute, when it slammed into Earth. "That energy has to go somewhere," says Pufahl. "Some of it goes into deforming the rock it slams into, some of it obliterates the rock it slams into and throws it in to the atmosphere, and some of it is transmitted away from the impact as shock waves. It is those shocks waves that would impact on water to cause tsunamis."
The paper was written by Peir Pufahl, Clifford Stanley, and Gabe Nelson (Acadia University), Eric Hiatt and Cole Edwards (University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh) and Jared Morrow (San Diego State University) and published in Geology in September 2007.
[See also the article in Discovery.com -a bit more sensational, perhaps, with a video of the NASA planetary protection officer whose job is to protect the Earth from "asteroids". ]
August 30, 2007
From wine to the mine (Cliff Stanley's research in focus in
by Janine MacDonald, ScienceNetwork, Western Australia
Wine: an exceptionally good vintage for extraction? Australia's trademark grassy sauvignon blanc may soon be used for more than the afternoon tipple. Scientists from Australia and Canada hope to use wine and soft drink to extract metals from soils to decide viable sites for mining metals such as silver, zinc, copper and nickel. CSIRO's exploration and mining researcher Dr Ryan Noble and Dr Cliff Stanley from Acadia University have been experimenting with cool drinks and wine to find a cheaper alternative to current extraction methods. The scientists compared a Spanish red wine tempranillo, Coke, Pepsi and Diet Coke with more traditional extraction methods to see how they fared. For cola devotees, apparently Pepsi was better than Coke and Diet Coke was better than Pepsi - for mineral extraction that is. But the red wine was superior to all. "I have no doubt that that you could use white wine and it would work pretty similarly," Dr Noble told ScienceNetwork WA.
The study, expected to be published in the journal Geochemistry: Exploration, Environment, Analysis, found the soft drink and wine solutions were as good as or better than the commonly used extraction solutions. The availability of the solution is its attraction. In fact, the study was prompted by the techniques of some commercial labs which refused to disclose the solutions they used. "The use of expensive and proprietary analytical procedures may not produce any better result than using common beverage solutions as soil extraction reagents," said Dr Noble. "Many newer extractions have glossy brochures and descriptions of their abilities to work, but none have been described as 'young and fruit driven with plum and blackcurrant overtones'." Dr Noble, who works at Bentley's Co-operative Research Centre for Landscape Environments and Mineral Exploration, and his co-author, first revealed the findings at the International Applied Geochemistry Symposium in Oviedo, Spain in June. The research is under peer review. Dr Noble said soft drink and wines contain a lot of weak organic acids such as citric acid - the chemical responsible for the sour taste in lemons, limes and oranges. The acids can dissolve metals in soil, releasing "mobile metals" into the solution where they bind to organic compounds to create metal molecules that can be detected in the laboratory. The acids can be used to find out if soils contain elevated levels of certain metals and to highlight areas where they would be in commercial concentrations. Western Australia produces about 15 per cent of the world's nickel. Australia is the largest producer and exporter of zinc and is in the top five or six producers of silver and copper in the world. Of course, most West Australian mine sites are "dry" and no alcohol is permitted on site. Fortunately, most extraction work is done offsite in laboratories. There would be few laboratory jobs where you can drink the unused solution.
29 August 2007
Welcome to Lynn Graves
As of 13 August, Lynn Graves will be the permanent, fulltime secretary in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science. Lynn has previously worked on a temporary basis with both Geology and Environmental Science and we are delighted to welcome her to her new permanent position. Lynn can be found in the E&ES Main Office in Huggins Science Hall, Rm. 327. Her phone extension is 1208.
13 August 2007
Farewell to Janet Harnum, secretary-technician,
Linda Lusby, acting department head
On 31 July, Janet Harnum finished up as the secretary-technician in the department. Janet has been the keystone of the department for the past 6 years (less occasional time off to enjoy her sons Sullivan and MacKenzie in their first years), and we know we will miss her. However, her time has come to brave the business world, as she opens a vegetarian restaurant in Main Street, Wolfville. Good luck with it, Janet, but you'll likely still be feeding us! We hope to announce Janet's replacement in a few weeks - in the meantime Lynn Graves will be answering the phone (and doing quite a lot of other things too!)
On 1 August, Linda Lusby took over as department head in the Earth and Environmental Science department for an 11-month acting role, when Rob Raeside is working as acting Dean of Science. Prof. Lusby has taught in the Environmental Science program since it was first established, so is well known to that half of the department. She will split her office time between the "North Lodge" (Huggins) and the "Chiller" (K.C. Irving Centre) as administrative and teaching duties call her.
1 August 2007
International Applied Geochemistry Symposium,
Five present or past members of the department attended the IAGS symposium, in Oviedo, northern Spain, from 14-19 June. Recent graduate Rafael Cavalcanti de Albuquerque writes "The conference consisted of four days of lectures and poster presentations, a field trip, a day course by Dr. Stanley, and social and tourist activities. My participation involved attendance at the conference and a poster presentation entitled "The Southern Nova Scotia Wine Terroir: A geological study of the geochemistry of soils with a focus on cation exchange capacity". The conference was a great opportunity to learn about what is being researched in geochemistry in several countries, and to meet students and professional geochemists. Acadia University had a strong presence in the conference. Besides the poster that I presented, Tansy O'Connor-Parsons and Jeff Bigelow gave talks related to their theses at Acadia, and Cliff Stanley presented a poster and conducted a day-long course on Pearce Element Ratio Analysis. All of the Acadia presentations received very good comments. The Acadia attendees (which also included José Texidor-Carlsson) made a good presence at the conference events as it seemed to me that all of us met many people, had interesting chats and made good contacts. I was also very glad to realize that the Department at Acadia is very well known to geochemists in other countries. I hardly ever had to explain where the university or the town of Wolfville are when meeting people from countries such as Spain, Chile, England or Australia. In my opinion this is an indicator that our department has been offering quality degrees and conducting relevant research for many years.
Regarding my participation, I believe that the highlights were the people that I met and the discussions that I had. During the first day of the conference we formed a group of poster presenters where each person presented his/her poster to the rest of the group. Each presentation would be followed by questions and discussions. In previous conferences I attended I realized that student presenters would often just stay in front of their posters and, as few people would walk by, would not have much chance to actually present their research. In this conference, however, by forming this group we managed to properly present our research several times and engage in interesting discussions. Two posters out of this group seemed especially interesting to me. They were a poster by a PhD student who is using discharge to evaluate river contamination in southern Spain, and a poster by a student in Australia who looks at tree leaves chemistry to map potential areas of economical mineral deposits. Another interesting idea that I saw was that some of the poster presenters brought 8 x 11 copies of their posters to give away. I think this is a good and easy way to help communicate the research being done as the attendees can take copies of the posters home, review them and get in touch with the presenters later to ask questions and exchange ideas. I do not remember seeing this in Eastern Canada and I think it is something to consider doing for future conferences.
The conference was certainly a good opportunity to make contacts. A number of university faculties were looking for potential masters and PhD students in Canada and other countries. Several companies were present and very open to talk about career opportunities. I had good conversations about career and graduate degrees opportunities even though I was not aggressively looking for either at the present moment as I have just started a job. I also met some geologists from Portugal who are part of a group of geologists that work with vintners on researching the influence of geology on wine production. I intend to keep in touch with them in order to exchange some ideas and see if they have publications that might be helpful to the paper that I will be writing on the topic of my honours thesis.
The next IAGS conference will take place in Fredericton, New Brunswick in 2009. This will hopefully make it easier for Acadia students and professors to attend. I felt very privileged to be able to attend a conference of such a high level at a very early stage of my career. It gave me a very good perspective of what is ahead of me in both the professional and academic areas. It was also a fine opportunity to make some good contacts and meet people. For these reasons, I believe that the 2009 conference should be advertised at Acadia, and any student with some interest in geochemistry should attend it.
23 July 2007
Jérôme Remick III Award to Sandra Barr's student for the third
For the third year running one of Sandra Barr's students has won the Jérôme Remick Award (Bronze level), given for the best posters at the GAC-MAC meeting each year. This year it was Duane Petts, who is a MSc student at the University of Western Ontario, but is supervised in part by Sandra, who was the winner of the $800 award after the meeting in Yellowknife in May. Duane's poster was entitled 'Oxygen isotope geochemistry of Late Proterozoic plutonic-volcanic sequences of the Mira Terrane, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia'. The poster is co-authored by Duane Petts, Fred Longstaffe, Joanna Potter and Sandra Barr. Last year Heather Wolczanski (BSc Hons, 2006) won the same award, and two years ago it was won by Cameron Bartsch - both students of Sandra at Acadia.
16 July 2007
On Friday afternoon, 1 June, José Texidor-Carlsson successfully defended his thesis on "Metallogeny of the Eastern Caledonia Highlands, southern New Brunswick". In it he investigated 58 mineral occurrences in southeastern New Brunswick, identified four that deserved further attention and, using Pearce element ratio analysis, identified the nature of alteration and mineralization responsible for these showings. José is a graduate of the Open University, UK. His thesis was jointly supervised by Sandra Barr and Cliff Stanley. He is currently working in mineral exploration studies in northern Ontario.
1 June 2007
Cliff Stanley and Rob Raeside attended the GAC-MAC conference in Yellowknife in May. Cliff presented a poster, co-authored with his PhD student David Murphy (U. Western Australia), entitled "Documenting geochemical, physical, and thermodynamic changes associated with all possible geochemical reactions in rocks using Gale vector space: Metasomatic examples from diamondiferous kimberlites and Ni laterite deposits." Rob spent most of his time in the Laurentian and Greenland sessions, catching up on the recent developments in Shield geology and fretting about the number of lectures he needs to update. For both, it was a first trip north, and into the boom-town environment of diamond mining. Cliff was able to participate on the field trip to Diavik and Ekati mines. It was also a good chance to catch up on several alumni, who now reside in Yellowknife: As a member of the organizing committee for the conference, Diane Baldwin was intercepted many times shuffling equipment around the city for the next session. Kelly Mahoney works as advisor to the Minister of Mines for NWT. Gordon Clarke also managed to stop by for a day between jobs investigating new mine sites for his company North Arrow Resources.
29 May 2007
Kara-Lynn Scallion and Sandra Barr as a CBC focus
Kara-Lynn Scallion (along with supervisors Peir Pufahl and Sandra Barr) were happily investigating outcrops in Saint John, NB, on 14 May when the CBC vans drove by and asked for an interview. Kara-Lynn and Sandra described the regional geology and importance of these outcrops, which bridge the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary. Their interview was taped for broadcast on Victoria Day.
21 May 2007
Twenty-three students graduate at Spring Convocation
Acadia sent 23 graduates out into the world at the spring convocation on 14 May. BSc (Honours) degrees were awarded in Geology to Geoff Baldwin and Crystal Laflamme, in Environmental Geoscience to Rafael Cavalcanti de Albuquerque and in Environmental Science to Meredith Batley, Cait Champion, Susanne MacDonald, Megan Masters, Andrea Rivers, Mary Samolczyk and Ty Smith. B.Sc. graduates were Bryon Angevine, Ge Bao, Lauren Bercovitch, Dustin Chaffee, Jenna Reid and Andrew Scott (Environmental Science), Erin Dodge, Ryan Jensen, Teri Lawrence, Kim Markvoort, Meredith Roik and Esther terMeer (Geology), and Rebecca Jones (Environmental Geoscience). The University Medal in Environmental Geoscience was awarded to Rafael Cavalcanti de Albuquerque and the University Medal in Environmental Science went to Cait Champion.
15 May 2007
Two new adjunct professors appointed: Lee Groat, Eric Hiatt
|Lee Groat||Eric Hiatt (at left!)|
The department is pleased to welcome two new adjunct
professors, both in collaboration with Peir Pufahl. Eric Hiatt is
stranger to Acadia, have spent part of his recent sabbatical leave
Eric usually works at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and will
working with Peir on Precambrian ironstones in Labrador this
Lee Groat is a professor of mineralogy at UBC, and will be
graduate student Dan MacDonald in his investigations of
11 May 2007
Atlantic Geoscience Society annual colloquium
A small army of professors and students attended the annual Atlantic Geoscience Society colloquium in Moncton, NB, on the weekend of 2-4 February. Several attendees gave papers: Cliff Stanley (Documenting the physical changes and thermodynamic effects of geochemical reactions: a metasomatic example in Gale vector space), Gabe Nelson and Peir Pufahl (Precambrian phosphorite accumulation in the Paleoproterozoic Baraga Group, Michigan, USA), Rafael Cavalcanti de Albuquerque, Ian Spooner and Cliff Stanley (The southern Nova Scotia wine terroir: a geological and pedological study of the geochemistry of soils from vineyards with a focus on cation exchange capacity) and Ian Spooner and Rob Raeside (Global warming, climate change and geoscientists: a volatile mix), or posters: Geoff Baldwin and Peir Pufahl (The sedimentology and diagenesis of a Mississippian brachiopod biostrome in the vicinity of Newport Landing, Hants County, Nova Scotia), Crystal Laflamme and Cliff Stanley (Petrology of the Triple Seven Zn-Cu volcanic hosted massive sulphide deposit, Flin Flon, Manitoba), Sheri Lyon, Sandra Barr and Sonya Dehler (Source(s) of magnetic and gravity anomalies south of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and onshore-offshore geological correlations), Mary Samoczyk, Ian Spooner, Cliff Stanley and Linda Lusby (Local stratigraphy and groundwater chemistry in the Grand Pré region, Nova Scotia: contamination sources and mitigation strategies), and Doug Stiff, Chris Hopkinson, Ian Spooner and Tim Webster (Using climate data, landscape parameterization, and a LiDAR generated digital elevation model to map flood risk in Oxford, Nova Scotia).
8 February 2007
Earth and Environmental Science Learning Centre
Since its inception in January 2007 the Earth and Environmental Science Learning Centre (EESLC) has been a tremendous success. With a dedicated teaching assistant and flexible hours through the week the centre provides students of Geology's large enrolment classes (General Oceanography - GEOL 1033 and Natural Disasters - GEOL 1073) the one-on-one learning environment that is the hallmark of an Acadia education. The instructors, Drs. Peir Pufahl, David McMullin, and Ian Spooner, believe strongly that the EESLC enriches the in-class experience by allowing them to engage students in a way not typical for large classes. The Centre is available Monday and Wednesday, 9.00-10.30 a.m., and Thursday, 9.30-11.30 a.m.
1 February 2007
For previously listed events in 2006, please go to the 2006 events archive.