Archive of news items - 2015

Acadia Faculty of Pure and Applied Science (FPAS) presents awards to Dr. Raeside and Dr. Barr

The Department of Earth and Environmental Science at Acadia is pleased to announce that two of our members were honoured with awards from the Acadia Faculty of Pure and Applied Science (FPAS).

Dr. Rob Raeside was awarded the FPAS Service Award. In the time that Rob has been at Acadia, Rob served as our Department Head for 15 years, even simultaneously serving as Acting Head of Chemistry for a year.  As well as being a dedicated teacher and mentor, Rob has been by turns, Secretary and then President of Faculty Council, Chair of Senate, and has served on innumerable committees, often as Chair. In the larger Earth Science community, Rob has served in numerous roles in APICS/Science Atlantic, the Atlantic Geoscience Society (AGS) and the Mineralogical Association of Canada (MAC). His service to AGS has been recognized as a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. He was instrumental in re-energizing the moribund Council of Chairs of Canadian Earth Science Departments (CCCESD) and has served as its Secretary since 1998. Since 1997, Rob has served as series editor for the Mineralogical Association of Canada’s short course series.  In summary, Rob embodies the concept of service.

Dr. Sandra Barr was awarded the FPAS Researcher – Established Award which is mandated to recognize “significant sustained research achievement.” Sandra has conducted research in igneous petrology, tectonics, stratigraphy, paleontology, and geochronology for four decades in the Atlantic region, and the efforts of her and her students and collaborators have served to provide a full understanding of the geological framework of this part of the Appalachian mountain belt.  She has deciphered the geology of the Atlantic Region in the context of modern plate tectonics and terranes, never shirking new and often controversial techniques and ideas, in a most exemplary fashion.  Her work is recognized as the authoritative record of the geology of Nova Scotia, adjacent parts of southern New Brunswick, and her early work in Thailand still considered current. Sandra is highly regarded as a teacher in classes ranging from Introductory Geology to graduate level, and a major contributor to the organization of the geosciences in Canada and abroad, as conference organizer, journal editor, society president, and currently President-Elect of the Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences.  Her award of the Ambrose Medal, the top service award in the geosciences in Canada, in 2015 demonstrates her wide-ranging commitment to the community.

We are very proud of the recognition of the accomplishments of two of our departmental members!

Ian Spooner
Professor and Head, Earth and Environmental Science
2 December 2015

E&ES students victorious in the second annual ENVS-ESST soccer match.

The fall classic soccer match between E&ES and ESST took place under sunny skies on 8 November. Although only a handful of E&ES students played, they were ably augmented by excess students from ESST (and maybe a few other passersby), who skillfully scored to tie the game, resulting in a nail-biting overtime 5-4 victory - enough to capture the recycled trophy, now resident in the E&ES common room. Pictured here are captain Alex (bearing the weight), Geology major Patrick Henger (left) and an unidentified Business major, recruited as an honorary member of the E&ES team.
18 November 2015

New Arthur Irving Academy Scholarship Recipients Announced

Pictured above are the 2014-15 and 2015-16 Arthur Irving Academy Scholarship recipients: (left to right, back row) Tyler d’Entremont (2015-16); University President Ray Ivany; Sarah Adams (2014-15); Baillie Holmes (2014-15); Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Arthur Irving (’52); Sadie Moland (2014-15); Sarah Fancy (2014-15); Rachel Clarke (2014-15); Adam Godfrey (2014-15); (front row, 2015-16 recipients)  Jocelyn Kickbush; Megan MacIsaac; Hannah Machat; and Sarah Stewart.

Congratulations to all!

Hannah Machat from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia believes the natural parks and wilderness she visited as a child should be preserved so future generations can enjoy the same activities that fueled her curiosity for environmental research. Hannah began studying for her BSc in Environmental Science in September 2015 and hopes to find new ways to reduce our impact on natural resources. Hannah is a multi-sport athlete, violinist, active community volunteer and has held several leadership positions in student government, school clubs and Ringette Nova Scotia.

Megan MacIsaac from Creignish, Nova Scotia, began pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science in September 2015. Megan’s appreciation for her rural community and the many outdoor experiences it offered ignited her interest in environmental research as a means of driving change in our approach to environmental stewardship and personal responsibility. Megan’s extra-curricular activities while in high school included involvement with various clubs and committees, video/website production, community volunteerism and 4H Club leadership.

Sarah Stewart has already launched her research career through her volunteer and summer work experience at the Tantramar Wetlands Centre located next to her home in Sackville, New Brunswick. Sarah is pursuing a BSc in Environmental Science with an interest in researching aquatic life and how humans can reduce their environmental footprint. Sarah excels at badminton, having competed for New Brunswick at the Canada Games, and is a jazz musician and choreographer.
29 October 2015

Katie McCulloch wins Science Atlantic Best Paper Award at AUGC

Honours student Katie McCulloch was the winner of the Science Atlantic Best Paper Award at the recent AUGC held at St. Mary's University on 22-24 October. Her paper, entitled "Petrology and geochemistry of the Jeffers Brook pluton, western Cobequid Highlands, Nova Scotia", dealt with her summer field work with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, and was co-authored by her supervisor, Sandra Barr, and her field supervisor, Trevor McHattie.

Also participating from Acadia were Max Turner, who gave a paper on the "Impact of regional geology on water quality in the Cumberland Marsh region", co-authored by Ian Spooner, Amanda Loder, and Mark Mallory, and David Maguire who gave a poster entitled "Petrology of the Chuggin Road complex, Creignish Hills, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia", co-authored with Sandra Barr. All three students did a first rate job on their various presentations! Another 20 or so students attended the conference, participating in the Challenge Bowl, field trips, and supporting the presenters on Saturday.
27 October 2015

Visit from Stu Venables

We were pleased to welcome alumnus Stu Venables back to Huggins to discuss his work in oil and gas exploration and regulation. Stu worked for several years for a variety of small oil and gas companies in Alberta before moving to Victoria to work with the BC Oil and Gas Regulatory Commission. Although it was the first morning back from study break, Stu spoke to a full class in the Clastic Rocks course about petroleum exploration, and to an even larger group at lunchtime (pizza may have helped!) on the regulatory side of fracking in exploration.

At Acadia, Stu completed his BSc in Geology in 1999, as well as participating in the football team, in his last year as captain of the team that won the Atlantic Bowl.
20 October 2015

Fletcher Club field trip to Parrsboro

The Fletcher Geology Club field trip headed to Parrsboro to view the amazing range of geology along the Cobequid-Chedabucto fault zone. Don Raeside gave a tour of Wassons Bluff with time travel included, and Clarkes Head where we saw new rock types every 50 m, and collected museum-quality calcite crystals. 

Below: the group at Cap d'Or where Alex Squires collected native copper.

Other stops included West Bay in a hunt for ripple marks and mud cracks (easy) and amphibian tracks (less easy). We also visited the Fundy Geological Museum and took in the lecture by Daniel Field on the origin of birds.

Thanks to the club for organizing, the department for assisting with the vans, and David Maguire for driving!
5 October 2015


Two Acadia students were participants on the PDAC's Student-Industry Mineral Exploration Workshop this past spring. Since Thomas Bagley graduated and left, and Percy Clark attended as a Fleming College student, and hadn't arrived, we didn't hear much about it until the Fall 2015 edition of CORE, the PDAC newsletter arrived in the mail.

The two-week workshop provides students with a well-rounded overview of the industry, dividing time between lectures, field exercises, site visits and networking opportunities with industry professionals to help them lay the foundation for a successful career in the mineral exploration industry. Included in the event is a four-day field trip to the Abitibi Greenstone Belt, with stops in Val d'Or, the LaRonde gold mine (1700 m underground) and the historic Noranda camp.

Thomas Bagley waiting to go underground.

Percy Clark (right) participating in classroom activities.

30 September 2015

Fletcher Club Day Trip to Walton

On 19 September, 17 students accompanied Rob Raeside on an excursion along the Noel Shore to view Carboniferous stratigraphy and structural geology of this coastline. Blessed by exceptionally low tides and hot, sunny weather, the group discovered natural petroleum leaks in gypsum, pyrolusite and dog-tooth calcite, tempestite breccia, Carboniferous and Triassic sand dunes, as well as the famous flora of the Horton Bluff Formation (ably described by Calvin and Donald), and stunning folds of Walton.

Group photo in front of one of the Walton folds.
20 September 2015

Acadia professor part of $1 million research project examining Earth’s early evolution

Sedimentologist Dr. Peir Pufahl will collaborate with Oxford University’s Dr. Nicholas Tosca on Natural Environment Research Council funded project

Dr. Peir Pufahl was invited by Dr. Nicholas Tosca of the University of Oxford to collaborate on a Natural Environment Research Council funded project focused on the evolution of life. NERC is the leading funder of Earth Science research in the UK. Tosca’s research team uses the mineralogy of sedimentary rocks that are hundreds of millions years old to understand how the cycling of elements essential for life changed over time. Collaboration with Tosca will further strengthen Acadia’s research ecosystem by linking with one of the world's premier research institutions. This opportunity will translate directly into research experience for Acadia students.
     The full story at:
2 September 2015

Senior Field School 2015

Nine students and two professors braved the wilds of Cape Breton Island for seven days of field work in late August. After five days wading rivers and climbing through the forests, the group took in the Cabot Trail on a geological field trip. Pictured above are Cole, Don, Nicole, Roxanne, Joline, Margot, Rikki, Calvin and Miguel, carefully inspecting samples of the Andrews Mountain Granite at the Mackenzie Valley lookoff, while Sandra Barr enjoys their enthusiasm.
31 August 2015

David Maguire's Doughnut makes the Tim Horton's Quarter-finals

Update - David's donut made it to the final four!

His donut creation has made it to the final 4 and first prize is $10,000!!
You can help David win by voting for his creation at the following link:

We thank you for your help!!

Tim Hortons has selected eight quarter-finalists in the Duelling Donuts competition, with David Maguire's ‘French Toast Deluxe’ being one of them. The  ‘French Toast Deluxe’ is  a cruller with maple crème filling, dark chocolate icing and maple drizzle, topped with pecans and is one of eight finalists from which two will ultimately be selected for marketing at Tim Horton's. David travelled to Oakville, ON, to participate in the judging in front of Jann Arden, deadmau5, and Sophie Tweed-Simmons. 
   You can see all the details on the Tim Horton's press release

17 August 2015

Thesis Defence: Lisa Slaman

Lisa Slaman defended her MSc thesis on "Petrology and age of the Cheticamp Pluton and its host rocks, western Cape Breton Highlands, Nova Scotia" before an attentive audience. The pluton was mapped by her supervisor, Sandra Barr, over 30 years ago, and during the defence Sandra admitted she hasn't slept well since 1984, not knowing the relations among the various components of the pluton. Lisa discovered that the pluton is in fact much more complex with several different lithologies, and at least four different phases of intrusion.
     Lisa came to Acadia following completion of her BSc at McMaster University, and was able to return to McMaster to complete much of the isotopic analytical work for her MSc thesis.

 17 July 2015

Earthquake in Nova Scotia

A magnitude 3.4 earthquake was felt over parts of western Nova Scotia on 1 July 2015. Reports of people feeling the motion came from Yarmouth and Digby counties, and the epicentre was located just west of Cape St. Mary at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. The hypocentre was at a depth of 5 km. This tremblor follows two magnitude 2 events in the same general area in June. People who felt it reported sensations like thunder, a snowplough going by, or like a train passing, but the movement continued for up to 60 seconds.

The earthquake was detected on the Acadia seismometer:

[Click on image for larger version]

Two events were identified at 3.33 p.m. local time, presumably the passing of the P and S waves. No damage was reported from this event.
2 July 2015

10-year Anniversary for Peir Pufahl

At a recent summer assembly of Acadia University, long-term employees in all areas were recognised. Included there was Dr. Peir Pufahl, who this year celebrates 10 years since his arrival at Acadia. 

Peir is seen receiving the award of recognition from Acadia president Ray Ivany.
Photo by Ian Spooner
12 June 2015

Sandra Barr launches new book "Geology of Nova Scotia"
Authors Sandra Barr and Martha Hickman Hild were present to sign copies of their new book on Thursday, 28 May, in the Garden Room, KC Irving Environmental Science Centre. Here Martha is signing a copy for recent graduate Hannah Sinclair. Over 70 people joined in the celebration of this colourful, easy-to-use guide, which tells the story of Nova Scotia’s geological history through a series of visits to beautiful, fascinating destinations all across the province. 

19 May 2015

34 Graduates in Earth and Environmental Science at May Graduation 

As spring gradually unfolds, and the lawns turn green again, graduating students and proud family members were very much in evidence over the weekend.  In all, 28 BSc degrees and 6 MSc degrees were recognised from Earth & Environmental Science at the May convocation at Acadia, comprising 3 MSc (Geology), 3 MSc (Applied Geomatics), 3 BSc Honours (Environmental Science), 1 BSc honours (Geology), 16 BSc (Geology), 1 BSc (Environmental Geoscience), and 7 BSc (Environmental Science). In addition, two BSc degrees from last year completed an honours conversion, one in Environmental Science and one in Geology.

Particular honour went to Amanda Loder, winner of the University Medal in Environmental Science, Lisa Mundry, winner of the University Medal in Geology, Thomas Bagley, recipient of the Mining Society of Nova Scotia Centennial Medal, and Jonathan Shute, winner of the University Medal in Environmental Geoscience.

12 May 2015

Environmental Science Field School April - May 2015

Seventeen students completed the ENVS 2523 field course this spring, braving miserable weather to collect insects, sediment cores, tree samples, coastal invertebrates, and to hone their mapping skills. The sunshine did come through at the end of the week and it was much appreciated! Students had a great time despite the weather and practiced hand-on techniques in environmental science.



7 May 2015

Bermuda Field course April - May 2015

An international class of 10 students just returned from Acadia’s Bermuda Field Course taught by Dr. Peir K. Pufahl. Students from Canada, the United States, and Germany learned about the modern and Pleistocene carbonate sediment of Bermuda. A primary aim was to understand the sedimentology and diagenesis of limestone hydrocarbon reservoirs. Next year this course will be offered annually for credit. Alumni are welcome!


7 May 2015

Geology Field School April - May 2015

A class of 26 students attended the 2015 Geology Field Methods course held at Acadia and at Camp Geddie, near Merigomish, Nova Scotia. In good spirit the whole class laboured on through deep snow, glorious sunsets, and late nights to accomplish all the exercises. At Arisaig the students managed to shed a few layers as they gathered for the traditional group photograph in spite of the surrounding ice flows in the Gulf.



6 May 2015

National Medal to Sandra Barr


Sandra Barr, Acadia University was named the 2015 winner of the J. Willis Ambrose Medal, which is awarded to an individual by the Geological Assocation of Canada for sustained dedicated service to the Canadian earth science community. The medal was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Association of Canada in Montreal on 4 May.

4 May 2015

Cliff Stanley's group at the IAGS, Tucson, Arizona

Cliff Stanley, graduate student Steven Kramar, and honours student Tom Bagley attended the International Applied Geochemistry Symposium (IAGS), a conference with about 500 delegates in Tuscon, Arizona, in April. Steve gave an oral presentation "Rocks Under Hanson Lake: Building A Chemostratigraphic Model To Aid Base Metal Exploration", for which he won runner up for "best oral student presentation". Tom's poster also attracted a lot of positive comments and he had to present it during multiple poster sessions.


Steve receiving recognition for best runner-up.


Tom, rigorously defending and showcasing his work, "Determining the Heterogeneity of Reference Materials".

25 April 2015

South Shore Field Trip

On April 20-21, an enthusiastic group of Acadia students led by Sandra Barr made the annual pilgrimage to Nova Scotia's "south shore". In Monday's sunshine and relative warmth they enjoyed pinpointing the contact between the Halifax and underlying Goldenville groups, examining Bouma sequences, and the famous Shelburne dyke. They then "oohed and aahed" over migmatite, pegmatite, and staurolite, andalusite, and cordierite porphyroblasts. Sadly Day 2 was rainy and windy so the geological wonders of Cape Forchu, the Overton section, and Cape St. Mary's were viewed with much less enthusiasm, and the road cut at Bear River was a washout. However, thanks to numerous visits to Tim Horton's to warm up and dry off, we all survived.


Seen here in front of a bed of sandstone at Green Bay: Nicole Rudolph, Jon Shute, Taylor Chew, Roxanne LaCombe, Sandra Barr, Jesse Sherwin, Richard Creagan, Miguel Armand, David Maguire, Hannah Sinclair, Jess Turner.
23 April 2015

2015 Covenant of the Ring Ceremony

Fourteen soon-to-be-graduated Geology and Environmental Geoscience students attended the Covenant of the Ring ceremony in Halifax on April 9, 2015.

17 April 2015

Landslide risks at Whistler, BC

photo: Braden Dupuis, Pique News Magazine

Ian Spooner recently visited Whistler to present the findings of Dewey Dunnington's thesis in a community forum in the community. The well-attended event provided him with the opportunity to reveal the history of landslides as recorded in the sediment in Alta Lake, which borders the town.

In an article in Pique News Magazine, Ian is recorded assuring residents that the landslide risk in Whistler itself is low, although the lake sediment has potential of revealing ancient landslides. The same cannot be said, however, for the Sea to Sky highway, which is considered a very high risk area.
17 April 2015

End of term celebrations in Earth and Environmental Science

The winter term nears its end, and students and faculty from Earth and Environmental Science once again enjoyed a delicious pot-luck dinner in the Curling Club on 27 March. Apart from the great food, highlights of the evening incluced reminiscences of the year by Dr. Spooner, the trivial game (won by the Rockateers, who achieved a perfect score!), and recognition of award winners through the year.

Emma Harris and Mikayla Dorey (co-winners of the Linda Lusby Award).

Rikki Simpson (winner of Harcourt Cameron Award)

31 March 2015

Jonathan Shute awarded the Logan Student Prize for 2015

The Geological Association of Canada (GAC) and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) have announced that Jonathan Shute has been awarded the Logan Student Prize for 2015. This annual prize is awarded jointly by GAC and PDAC to one undergraduate student at each Canadian Earth Science department. Students are selected for the prize based on demonstration of academic quality, leadership skills, and field school performance. Candidates for the prize were nominated by the Fletcher Geology Club with the final selection of the winner done by Faculty from among those nominated. The prize consists of a monetary award, one-year memberships in both GAC and PDAC, and a certificate of achievement. Jonathan will graduate in May with a BSc in Environmental Geoscience.

tl_files/sites/ees/Images/news/Jon Shute in Windsor.jpg

Jonathan in the field, Windsor, NS

30 March 2015

Science Atlantic Environment Conference

The conference was well attended (63 attendees) at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, 13-14 March this year. Dr. O’Driscoll attended with 9 students from Acadia (7 undergraduates and 2 graduates). Jillian Bennett and Michael Brophy presented their honours research in oral presentations.  In addition Erin Mann and Sara Klapstein presented their PhD research. The opening speaker was Aboriginal Elder Albert Marshall who spoke about the need for merging traditional knowledge with science. The invited speaker was Marty Janowitz, the vice president of sustainable development at Stantec Consulting, who spoke about the need for increased collaboration, empathy, and global awareness.


Top Left to right: Dr. O’Driscoll, Adriana Pontalti
Bottom Left to right: Erin McKee, Rachel Clarke, Erin Mann, Sara Klapstein, Amanda Loder, Jillian Bennett, Micheal Brophy (missing from picture Thora Christensen, Bailey Holmes)

19 March 2015

OERA funds Acadia students’ field trip travel

The Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA) announced that the OERA Student Research Travel Program has provided two Acadia students with funding to support their graduate studies in Geology. Laura MacNeil and Krista Kroeninger will be taking Peir Pufahl's course at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences focusing on sedimentology, oceanography and diagenesis of carbonate sediments and rocks in Bermuda.

"The OERA Student Research Travel Program is a valuable asset that can offer students who are interested in building their international networks to conduct new and exciting research, or attend advanced field schools which has the potential to contribute to Nova Scotia’s offshore petroleum and emerging marine renewable energy sectors," commented OERA Executive Director Stephen Dempsey.
11 March 2015

AGS Colloquium - Sackville, NB

On the snowy weekend of 30-31 January approximately 12 students and all the professors of Geology attended the Atlantic Geoscience Society colloquium at Mt. Allison University. Some of the highlights of the weekend included:

  • papers by graduate student Laura MacNeil and undergraduate student Regan Maloney
  • posters by undergraduate students Thomas Bagley, Erin McKee, Céline Porter, and graduate students Dewey Dunnington and Lisa Slaman
  • a new map of Cape Breton Island by Sandra Barr, Chris White and others
  • Cliff Stanley completed his term as president of the AGS
  • heavy snow prevented the banquet speaker from arriving, but we were treated to an exposé on the Alex Colville mural by Mt. A. Dean of Science, Jeff Ollerhead, with several linkages to Acadia and Wolfville mentioned
  • Dewey Dunnington won the Graham Williams award for the best graduate student poster

Dewey Dunnington receiving the Graham Williams Award from incoming AGS president John Calder.

9 February 2015

GIS Short Course


On Jan 4, 5 the Department of Earth and Environmental Science hosted a GIS Short Course that was attended by 33 students and faculty.  The course was presented by Dewey Dunnington, a M.Sc. student in Geology, assisted by Karissa Reischke, a M.Sc. Applied Geomatics Student. This course was taught using QGIS, an open source GIS program and those taking the course learned how to create maps, manage geographical data, and perform data analysis. We hope to offer this course again in fall 2015.

6 January 2015

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