Hello! My name is Zoë Vestrum. I’m a third year PhD student at the University of Alberta, studying magnetotellurics (MT) under Professor Martyn Unsworth. My research focuses on incorporating different near-surface resistivity measurements into the MT inversion model, in order to more reliably model deeper resistivity structures. I am currently on a work term at Borealis GeoPower, where I am expanding their MT survey grid and integrating airborne electromagnetic data into the resistivity model.
I did my BSc in Geophysics at the University of Calgary, then went to do an MSc in Geodynamics at the University of Saskatchewan. Afterwards, I wanted to do something a bit more hands-on, so I took my computer skills to the University of Alberta and out into the wilderness.
Our research requires a considerable amount of fieldwork. I’ve been on field campaigns looking for kimberlites in Saskatchewan, at volcanos in BC, and for geothermal energy in the Yukon and BC. If all goes well, I will also be going to Nunavut this spring.
The fieldwork consists of planting electrodes and magnetic coils in the ground to observe fluctuations in the electric and magnetic fields. These signals decay with depth as a function of frequency, with high frequencies sampling the shallower structures. Thankfully, electromagnetic signals occur naturally at a wide variety of frequencies, from global lighting (high frequency) to solar storms (low frequency). So, you can measure the resistivity of the ground using the same electromagnetic phenomenon that creates the Aurora Borealis!
When I am not in the field, I enjoy knitting, biking, and bouldering. I have been knitting for a charity group, Knit for a Unique Fit, for about a year now. This involves making bespoke items for people with limb differences.
At the U of A, I am the president of the geophysics club, the VP social of the physics club, and an active team member of the physics department’s equity, diversity, and inclusivity group.
I’m also on the organizing committee for the third annual Canadian Geothermal Students’ Days hosted at the University of Alberta this August. Please feel free to contact me if you are interest in presenting, attending, or sponsoring this event!