This November 1st-3rd Dalhousie University and its Dawson Geology Club hosted the Annual Atlantic Universities Geoscience Conference. Students and faculty from St. Mary’s University, St. Francis Xavier University, Memorial University, Dalhousie University, University of New Brunswick and Acadia University were all in attendance. The conference took place at the Dalhousie Campus McCain Building and the Atlantica Hotel in Halifax, NS, with various field trips to locations around the province.
For most students, this is one of the first conferences of the many to be attended in their budding geological careers. Nearly 100 students, 30 faculty members, and industry professionals from across the Maritimes attended. The conference brought together many student projects and studies related to all types of geosciences, ranging from diamond formation in kimberlites, to structural and seismic studies across the ocean floor and even environmental impacts associated with different global operations. Students in attendance presented posters and gave oral presentations on their ongoing research projects to a panel of judges from all industries, including Chelsea Squires and Matthew Drew from the CSEG.
Students also took part in other activities including the CSEG Challenge Bowl, which was a huge hit. All universities in attendance submitted a team to compete; the competition saw Memorial University of Newfoundland taking the championship at the regional level. Memorial will send two students from the team to compete at the national Challenge Bowl in Calgary at the 2019 GeoConvention. Students and faculty members also attended different field trips to geological sites around Nova Scotia that were led by industry professionals and Dalhousie Faculty members. Three trips in total went to different locations. The first trip, led by Dr. Michael Parsons of the GSC, was to mine shafts and tailing sites of the old Montague gold districts surrounding Halifax. The second trip, led by Dr. Richard Cox and Dr. Becky Jamieson, was a trip to examine the different phases and stages of the South Mountain Batholith, which makes up most of the southern half of Nova Scotia. The third and last trip was led by Tim Fedak, Dalhousie Adjunct professor, to the Parrsboro shores along the Bay of Fundy, to examine the Triassic/Jurrasic boundary, examine fossils and see a variety of complex depositional environments.
On the final night of the conference, a banquet dinner was held to honor and congratulate all the students who participated and shared their research. Awards were presented to the winners of each of the six award categories: receiving the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists Award was Jacob Newman (Memorial University) for his poster “Numerical and experimental observation of nonlinear responses from the interaction of two progressing waves at an interface”. Receiving the Imperial Best Poster Award was Mattea McRae (Memorial University) for her poster “Comparing CO2 sequestration experimental methods and investigating CO2 sequestration using type I and type II serpentine groundwaters”. Receiving the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geology Award was Brant Gaetz (Memorial University) for his paper “Geophysically constrained microplate fragmentation model, and terrane-controlled evolution of Mesozoic basins – Rifted North Atlantic borderlands, offshore Newfoundland, Canada”. Receiving the Frank S. Shea Memorial Award was Kali Gee (St. Mary's University) for her paper “Origin of epithermal style gold mineralization in the eastern Cobequid Highlands, Nova Scotia: constraints from S isotopes and pyrite trace element chemistry”. Receiving the Atlantic Geoscience Society Award for Environmental Geoscience was Garrett Velkjar (Acadia University) for his paper “Decoupling sources of natural and anthropogenic impact using lake sediment archives: an example from Cecil Lake, Fort St. John, B.C". Receiving the Science Atlantic Presentation and Communication Award was Liam MacNeil (UNB), for his paper on “Reconstructing paleoproductivity in the North Water Polynya employing diatom microfossils”.
Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Astronaut and 10th administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gave the conference’s keynote speech following the awards. Dr. Sullivan talked about the vigorous training required to become an astronaut, and the joys and wonders of space, following up with her role at NOAA. Dr. Sullivan’s speech was inspiring and impactful to many of the students in attendance. There could not have been a better wrap-up to the conference than leaving an audience reaching for the stars.