Travel Blog: Howard Street Robinson Lecture Tour, Western Leg, Nov 2015.

I have had the pleasure of being the Howard Street Robinson Medal winner of the Geological Association of Canada for 2015-2016. As part of the medal I am giving a lecture tour across Canada and just currently undertook the western leg of the tour where I gave 12 lectures in Whitehorse, Vancouver, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg. I will be undertaking additional legs in 2016. I gave three different presentations during this leg of the tour, including: 1) Seafloor Hydrothermal Systems: What are they? Their significance. Resources on sea and land, and life on the early Earth, which was a general talk aimed at a non-expert audience (seafloor vent talk); 2) Semi-permeable interface model for subseafloor replacement-style volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposits, which was based on my recent paper in Economic Geology (replacement talk); and 3) Zn-rich volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposits, which is based on another recent paper of mine in an Irish Association of Economic Geology Special Publication (Zn-rich VMS talk).

It was a great trip and outlined below are the locations and places I gave various talks and thanks to my hosts for their hospitality and the invites.

Stop 1 – Whitehorse – I gave two talks in Whitehorse, including the seafloor vents talk at Yukon College on November 13th, and the replacement talk in the Yukon Geoscience Forum on November 17th. It was great to hang out with may old Yukon friends and colleagues and talk Yukon geology again. A special thanks goes out to Joel Cubley from Yukon College for the invite to present at the college, and for Mo Colpron for hosting me while in Whitehorse.


SS Klondike near the Yukon River, Whitehorse taken early morning.

Stop 2 – Vancouver – My first talk in Vancouver was on November 18th and jointly sponsored by the Geological Association of Canada Cordilleran Section and the Mineral Deposit Research Centre at UBC and was on Zn-rich VMS. There was a fantastic crowd of old friends, colleagues from industry, and some former students. The question session was excellent with some really insightful questions. Thanks to Thomas Bissig for his hospitality and hosting me while in Vancouver.

I also gave two talks at UBC and SFU on November 20th. I gave the replacement talk at UBC (my alma mater!) in the morning, and it was hosted by the local SEG Student Chapter. There was a great question and answer session after the talk with a lots of great questions on bacteria, VMS genesis, and the nature of replacement processes. Special thanks to Rachel Kim and the SEG Student Chapter for hosting me. I gave a second talk on Zn-rich VMS at SFU in the afternoon. There were excellent questions on the role of magmatic fluids in VMS, boiling, ocean chemistry, and tectonics. It was really great to catch up with colleagues there I hadn’t seen in a while and to chat with students. Special thanks to Dan Marshall for hosting me while there.


Stroll along the seawall, Vancouver.

Stop 3 – Kelowna – I spent a great day on November 19th at UBC Okanagan and gave the seafloor vents talk. It was my first time to the campus and had a great day checking out the department and facilities, catching up with faculty, and chatting with students. Even had a chance to look at some great textures in young volcanic rocks! I’d like to thank the faculty and students that took time out to hang out with me while there, the questions after the talk (many that I couldn’t answer but it gave me some ideas about things I need to read about!), and particularly Ed Hornibrook and Janet Heisler for the excellent visit and their hospitality (I’ll wear my UBC hat with pride!).


Flying out over Okanagan Lake.

Stop 4 – Saskatoon – Had the pleasure of visiting colleagues at Saskatoon to give two talks on November 23rd. I gave the Zn-rich VMS talk at the CIM Geological Society Saskatoon Branch and thank Shayne Rozdilsky for arranging this. Great turnout with a lot of interesting questions and great to see colleagues from the local industry, including one of my former students! I gave a second talk on replacement-type VMS at the University of Saskatchewan to a student-rich audience, which was followed up by a great question period with some excellent questions on metal zoning in replacement systems, sulphur isotopes, processes for replacement, etc.. I was also lucky to have a fantastic tour of the Canadian Light Source synchrotron with Joyce McBeth (and fellow UBCer from the late 90s!). Pretty amazing place and got some great insight into what the synchrotron can be used for, and what kind of research could be done in economic geology using said instrument. I’d like to also thank Camille Partin and Kevin Ansdell for their hospitality and hosting me while there.


Canadian Light Source synchrotron.


Be very wary of synchrotron operators in their natural habitat!

Stop 5 – Regina – I gave two talks in Regina on November 24th. The first talk was on Zn-rich VMS to the Saskatchewan Geological Society. The talk was in arguably the coolest venue on the tour (the Artful Dodger Cafe) with great turnout and great questions. I also ran into a friend from my first field season in 1993! The second talk was in the afternoon on replacement-type VMS at the University or Regina. The talk had a great audience with a lot of discussions and questions on bacterial colonies in VMS, framboids, Precambrian replacement-type deposits, and faunal colonies around hydrothermal vents.  I thank Tsilavo Raharimahefa and Guoxiang Chi  for their help and hosting me at the University of Regina, and Jason Cosford, Bernadette Knox, Kate MacLachlan, Ryan Morelli, and Murray Rogers from the Saskatchewan Geological Society (and Saskatchewan Geological Survey and APEGS) for organizing the SGS talk and their hospitality while in Regina.


Solitary tree on a lonely, snowy prairie en route to Regina (or awakening the spirit of Sinclair Ross).

Stop 6 – Winnipeg – I gave two talks in Winnipeg. The first talk was on replacement-type VMS at the Manitoba Geological Survey on November 25th. This talk had a great question session with survey staff (and former survey staff) on sulphur isotopes, metamorphism and its influence on textures and isotopes, preservation of textures in ancient rocks, and heat budgets and architecture of basins hosting VMS deposits. The second talk on November 26th was at the University of Manitoba and co-hosted by the GAC Winnipeg Section, and was on Zn-rich VMS deposits. There was quite a diverse audience of faculty, students, survey, and industry. Some great questions after the talk on preservation vs. process in deposit distribution, carbonate alteration in VMS, and even on the Buchans deposits in Newfoundland. I’d like to thank Alfredo Camacho and Mostafa Fayek for their hospitality at U of M, Christian Böhm at the Manitoba Geological Survey, and a special thanks to Scott Anderson for hosting me during the entire trip!

The preparation and execution of a tour like this requires a lot of work on multiple fronts (as illustrated by the local hosts above). I would like to give special thanks to Alwynne Beaudoin, GAC Lecture Tour Coordinator for doing so much behind the scenes for the tour; James Conliffe, GAC Secretary/Treasurer, who did a lot of the promotion and social media shout outs for the tour; and Karen Johnston-Fowler at GAC headquarters who has helped immensely with the logistical and financial aspects of the tour.

Stay tuned for updates on the next leg!


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