Talk Sessions

Special Sessions and Symposia will include the following:

New data from an old continent: The Proterozoic stratigraphic record of Laurentia

Special Session 1 (SS1)

Student participation in SS1 is supported in part by GAC’s Precambrian Division. Click here for more details.  

Justin Strauss, Dartmouth College (

Galen Halverson, McGill University (

Laurentia is host to an exceptional geological record of Proterozoic tectonism, magmatism, and sedimentation. Proterozoic strata record large fluctuations in global biogeochemical cycles, the origination of multiple eukaryotic crown groups, evidence for multiple glaciations, emplacement of many Large Igneous Provinces, and the amalgamation and subsequent fragmentation of supercontinents. Proterozoic sedimentary basins in northern Laurentia also host economically important zinc, copper, iron, uranium and other stratiform mineral deposits. Recent research has yielded many new radioisotopic ages, stratigraphic constraints, chemostratigraphic profiles, and other data, motivating new and refined models for the tectonic origins and evolution of these basins. But much controversy remains regarding inter-basinal correlation, the style, scale, and timing of regional tectonism, and the paleoenvironmental implications of geochemical proxies and the fossil record. This session provides a forum to share progress on diverse problems linked to northern Laurentia’s ancient history as recorded in its rich stratigraphic record. We invite contributions from a range of sub-disciplines including (but not limited to) sedimentology and stratigraphy, biogeochemistry, paleontology, geochronology, and paleomagnetism, bearing on the origin, history, and correlation of Proterozoic basins in Laurentia and the record of Earth system evolution they preserve. Contributions on Proterozoic basins from former neighbouring cratons are also encouraged.

Northwest Laurentia's neighbors in Proterozoic supercontinents: Cratonic identifications and their geodynamic implications

Special Session 2 (SS2)

Student participation in SS2 is jointly supported by GAC’s Precambrian Division and Canadian Tectonics Group.  Click here for more details.

Bruce Eglington, University of Saskatchewan (

David Evans, Yale University (

Zheng-Xiang Li, Curtin University of Technology (

Recent paleogeographic models for both Nuna (ca. 1600-1300 Ma) and Rodinia (ca. 900-700 Ma) invoke ancient tectonic connections between NW Laurentia and eastern Australia, possibly with various cratons of eastern Asia (South China, North China, Tarim, Siberia) in between or nearby.  The tectonostratigraphic and paleomagnetic records of all of these continental blocks must be scrutinized to test whether any of the proposed models has validity, for either time interval. If they are even approximately correct, then a general geodynamic pattern of supercontinental “introversion” is suggested.  As part of International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) Project 648, “Supercontinent Cycles and Global Geodynamics,” this session aims to bring both geologists and geophysicists together to discuss recent advances in Proterozoic supercontinent research, at both regional and global scales.

Tectonics of accretionary and collisional orogens

Special Session 3 (SS3)

Student participation in SS3 is jointly supported by GAC’s Precambrian Division and Canadian Tectonics Group.  Click here for more details.

Maurice Colpron, Yukon Geological Survey (

Steve Israel, Yukon Geological Survey (

Luke Beranek, Memorial University (

Active continental margins are sites of terrane accretion and continental collision. This session will explore the structural, magmatic, metamorphic, sedimentary and geophysical expressions of accretionary and collisional orogens from the Precambrian to the present day.  We welcome papers on any aspect of terrane accretion and continental collision with the intention of providing a modern view of accretionary and collisional tectonics from a broad range of perspectives and expertise.  Presentations combining mutli-disciplinary approaches or comparing different orogenic systems are encouraged.

Structure, magmatism and metallogeny of the evolving North American Cordilleran margin: In honour of the career of Jim Mortensen

Special Session 4 (SS4)

Student participation in SS4 is supported in part by GAC’s Canadian Tectonic Group.  Click here for more details.

Murray Allan, University of British Columbia (

Craig Hart, University of British Columbia (

Sarah Gleeson, University of Alberta (

The North American Cordillera continues to challenge, bewilder, and amaze geologists with its wealth and diversity of hydrothermal mineral deposits. Advances in the metallogenic understanding of the Cordillera over recent years have gone hand in hand with developments to magmatic, geochronologic, and structural frameworks of this complex accretionary orogen. This session celebrates the staggering career of Jim Mortensen, who has tirelessly contributed to so many aspects of Cordilleran magmatism, metallogeny, and tectonics. We welcome contributions that link structure and/or magmatism to hydrothermal ore systems in the Northern Cordillera, either at regional or deposit scale.

Environmental stewardship in mining

Special Session 5 (SS5)

Dustin Rainey, Yukon Government (

Amelie Janin, Yukon College (

Katherine Stewart, Yukon College (

The mining industry has evolved to a point where responsible mine life cycle planning must include implementation of long-term environmental mitigation measures before, during and after mineral resource extraction. Geoscientists are well suited to participate in all phases of the mine life cycle because geological and geochemical properties of ore bodies and near-surface geological materials directly control the mineral assets exploited by mining, and the potential environmental liabilities associated with uncontrolled metal leaching and acid rock drainage. This session provides an opportunity for geoscience practitioners to present on topics that facilitate achievement of long-term protection of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems adjacent to mines, and the remediation of mining disturbances.

Indicator minerals in till and stream sediments

Special Session 6 (SS6)

Adrian Hickin, British Columbia Geological Survey (

Alain Plouffe, Geological Survey of Canada (

This special session complements the short course, “Indicator minerals in till and stream sediments of the Canadian Cordillera”. Drift prospecting and stream sediment sampling is an effective method for detecting mineralization. A strong understanding of the origin, genesis, and transport history of the sample media is essential for understanding the inherited and detrital geochemical and mineralogical signature. Traditional stream sediment and till exploration methods have evolved recently and become more sophisticated while remaining cost effective. This special session invites presentation on: drift prospecting and stream sediment case studies applicable to mineral exploration; advances in deposit indicator mineral assemblages and characterization of their trace element and isotopic signature; current models of growth, decay, and flow of the Cordilleran ice sheet and the implications for transport history; sample media selection, processing, and quality control/assurance; and advances in traditional till matrix geochemistry. The session will emphasise developments in stream sediment and drift exploration applications in the high relief regions and interior plateaus, but other novel and innovative applications of drift prospecting science are welcome.

Geohazards in a changing climate

Special Session 7 (SS7)

Fabrice Calmels, Yukon College (

Bronwyn Benkert, Yukon College (

From flooding to coastal erosion, permafrost thaw to slope movement, the impacts of climate changes have already, and will continue to, have a significant impact on a variety of geohazards. The purpose of this session is to explore how these changes are creating or intensifying geohazards in a broad range of environments. We invite presentations on issues relating to new or already well-known threats, methods for risk and vulnerability assessment, and approaches to mitigation.  Presentations may also address topics relating to the development of adaptation strategies, engineering approaches, and/or other physical responses to geohazards, or bring forward interesting or novel case study examples of geohazards in a changing climate.

Investigating crustal neotectonics on the western margin of North America

Special Session 8 (SS8)

Student participation in SS8 is supported by GAC’s Canadian Tectonics Group.  Click here for more details.

Lucinda Leonard, University of Victoria (

Kristin Morell, University of Victoria (

Lisa Nykolaishen, Geological Survey of Canada (

Michael Schmidt, Arctic Institute of North America (

In western North America, crustal seismicity indicates that plate boundary deformation is distributed over a wide region inboard of the current margin. The processes and structures involved in the accumulation of crustal strain remain poorly understood and likely include reactivation of previous plate margin faults. Over much of North America, the identification of active crustal faults is hampered by sparse seismic and geodetic networks, a lack of exposed Plio-Quaternary sediments that could preserve offsets, and a recent glacial history that precludes the use of many traditional tectonic-geomorphic methods. In this session, we seek contributions that address these challenges, leveraging old and new datasets to better characterize the style, mechanisms and rates of crustal neotectonics. We aim to bring together Earth scientists who investigate crustal deformation in western North America on a variety of temporal and spatial scales, in fields that could include geomorphology, geochronology, structural geology, geodesy, geophysics, geodynamics, seismology, and paleoseismology.

Tectonic controls on northern Canada’s mineral and petroleum resources

Special Session 9 (SS9)

Student participation in SS9 is jointly supported by GAC’s Precambrian Division and Canadian Tectonics Group.  Click here for more details.

Suzanne Paradis, Geological Survey of Canada (

Peter Hannigan, Geological Survey of Canada (

Proterozoic to Cenozoic strata of the Mackenzie Platform, Selwyn Basin, and Arctic basins host a variety of mineral and petroleum resources that formed in response to several periods of complex tectonism along the margins of North America.  This session will focus on minerals and petroleum resources of northern Canada and tectonic processes that play a role in their formation. We welcome papers (oral and poster presentations) on topics ranging from the relation of mineral and petroleum systems to tectonic setting and history of basins, the correlation of tectonic features preserved in the sedimentary record such as unconformities or epeirogenic deformation to system processes of trap formation, fluid flow and mineral or petroleum accumulation and preservation, and tectonic controls on the development of depositional facies and basin architecture.

Making the most of Earth science websites to support outreach and education

Special Session 10 (SS10)

Eileen van der Flier-Keller, University of Victoria (

Sarah Laxton, Yukon Geological Survey (

Charly Bank, University of Toronto (

Beth McLarty Halfkenny, Carleton University (

Miriam Vos-Guenter, Belmont Secondary School (

As the Four Billion Years and Counting website joins sites such as Earthlinks, Careers in Earth Science, and EdGEO, which are important for Earth science outreach and education in Canada and elsewhere, this session provides an opportunity to share ideas, experiences and insights for making the most of digital resources to engage young people, support teachers and promote public awareness of the importance of Earth science to society.

Cratons, kimberlites and diamonds

Special Session 11 (SS11)

Thomas Stachel, University of Alberta (

D. Graham Pearson, University of Alberta (

Bruce Kjarsgaard, Geological Survey of Canada (

This session invites presentations covering advances in the fields of:

1. Deep cratonic lithosphere research (mantle xenolith/xenocryst and diamond studies);

2. Processes of diamond formation (ultra-trace elements and stable isotopes in diamond; Diamond forming fluids/melts and redox reactions);

3. Origin of kimberlite magmas (mineral chemistry, isotopic studies, experimental petrology, etc.);

4. Advances in diamond exploration techniques (indicator mineral chemistry, geothermobarometry, etc.).

Characteristics and causes of low-pressure metamorphism

Special Session 12 (SS12)

David Pattison, University of Calgary (

Chris Coueslan, Manitoba Geological Survey (

David Moynihan, Yukon Geological Survey (

Low pressure (andalusite-sillimanite type) metamorphism has played a major role in the geological evolution of Canada from the Archaean to the Cenozoic. In this session we examine the characteristics and causes of low-P metamorphism, with special emphasis on the development of large low-P metamorphic belts in the Canadian Shield, the Cordillera, the Appalachians, and elsewhere in the world.

We invite field-, laboratory- and modelling-based contributions dealing with, but not restricted to: mineral assemblages and textures; phase relationships; physical and chemical controls on crystallisation histories; rates of metamorphism; tectonic settings and processes responsible for the development of large, low-P metamorphic belts; “Regional-contact” metamorphism; thermal and kinetic modelling; secular changes in the thermal state of the lithosphere; occurrences of kyanite in low-P settings; metamorphism of ore deposits and their host rocks.

Ore petrology: Application of past, present and future methods to ore systems

Special Session 13 (SS13)

Daniel Kontak, Laurentian University (

Steve Piercey, Memorial University (

The textures, compositions and assemblages of minerals in ore systems provide a permanent record of the processes responsible for ore deposit formation. Integration of classical ore microscopy with modern analytical methods has resulted in considerable advances in furthering our understanding of many ore deposits. This session welcomes papers that explore the application of aspects of ore petrology, old and new, to understanding ore deposits settings.

Tantalum, tin and tungsten at the margins

Special Session 14 (SS14)

Lee Groat, University of British Columbia (

Bill Mercer, Avalon Rare Metals Inc. (

Tantalum, tin and tungsten (the 3T’s) are all critical strategic elements with uses from microelectronics to alloys. They are often obtained from “conflict minerals” implicated in prolonging conflicts, especially in central Africa. However the “3T’s” also occur, in some cases in considerable amounts, in northern Canada. This session addresses formational models for tantalum, tin and tungsten deposits, occurrences in northern Canada and around the world, and efforts being made to determine (“fingerprint”) the origin of ores and mineral concentrates.

Stable isotopes and the Earth system

Special Session 15 (SS15)

Student participation in SS15 is supported in part by GAC’s Precambrian Division. Click here for more details.   

Fred J. Longstaffe, University of Western Ontario (

Stable isotopic tools have been at the heart of investigating interactions among the lithosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and heliosphere – on time scales ranging from diurnal to millions/billions of years. Papers are welcomed using stable isotopes to treat the general theme of how Earth has functioned as a system in the past, how it is functioning today in the presence of anthropogenic influences, and what such data suggest about how Earth may function in the future.

Beringia – interdisciplinary records of Cretaceous dinosaurs to Pleistocene mammoths.

Special Session 16 (SS16)

Grant Zazula, Yukon Government (

Duane Froese, University of Alberta (

Beringia is the main terrestrial biogeographic route for the exchange of plants and animals between the Old and New Worlds. Fossil records ranging from Cretaceous dinosaurs trackways to the well-known Pleistocene mammal megafauna reveal dramatic biotic changes in this region over geologically and evolutionarily significant time scales. Fossils from Beringia provide critical records of intercontinental biotic dispersals and adaptation to high latitude arctic conditions. Although much of this region remains poorly studied due to its remoteness, recent years have produced many important new discoveries in the fields of paleoecology and paleontology. Many of these results are achieved in an interdisciplinary context that integrate stratigraphy, geomorphology, geochronology, sedimentology, stable isotopes and in the more recent deposits, paleo-permafrost studies and ancient genetics. This session invites contributions that focus on the fossil and paleoenvironmental records of Beringia, including related fields with an interdisciplinary focus.


Special Session (SS17)

Norman Easton, Yukon College (

Robert Sattler, Tanana Chiefs Conference (

This session invites interdisciplinary contributions that relate to the application of geology to the investigation and understanding of human occupations of the landscape in the past. The context of archaeological evidence is fundamentally geological – we invite contributions that explore how the geological sciences can assist and expand our understanding of archaeological records.

Geophysical constraints on geological structures and processes

Special Session (SS18)

Student participation in SS18 is supported in part by GAC’s Canadian Tectonic Group.  Click here for more details.

Ian Ferguson, University of Manitoba (

Phil McCausland, Western University (

Geophysical imaging methods can map 3-D spatial variations in physical properties. The results can be integrated with surface geological and geochemical observations to elucidate geological structures at scales ranging from near-surface to deep lithosphere and beyond. Additional methods, including paleomagnetism, extend geophysical capabilities providing 4-D constraints on geological processes. This session is devoted to the application of geophysical methods to geological targets in areas including, but not limited to, tectonics, resource exploration, and geo-environmental studies.

Canadian contributions to the planetary sciences: Missions, materials, and analogues

Special Session (SS19)

Livio Tornabene, University of Western Ontario (

Roberta Flemming, University of Western Ontario (

Catherine Neish, University of Western Ontario (

Canadian scientists and engineers are playing an increasingly important role in the field of planetary sciences. This community is helping to develop spacecraft missions and their scientific instruments, run mission simulations in relevant analogue sites on Earth, and conduct research on the data returned from such missions. Canadian scientists are also providing key contributions to research in the areas of astrobiology and astromaterials (e.g., meteorites). These fields will provide critical information about the Earth’s early history, a record that is largely lost through geologic activity, and the origin of life in our Solar System. Such studies are also preparing us for sample return and manned missions to the Moon, asteroids, Mars and beyond.

The Canadian planetary science community stands to benefit from increased collaborations with those in the more traditional fields of geology, implementing novel approaches to address age-old questions about the Earth and our Solar System. This session seeks to bring together these communities to present on topics pertaining to (1) upcoming NASA, CSA and ESA planetary missions, (2) analogue missions, and (3) planetary materials. Results from current and future planetary exploration missions with Canadian involvement will be highlighted. Submissions highlighting the increasing commonalities in the techniques and technologies employed for terrestrial and planetary exploration are particularly welcome.

Geoscience professionalism 2016: Issues, responsibilities and information – what’s new and what do you need to know?

Special Session (SS20)

Oliver Bonham, Geoscientists Canada (

Hendrik Falck, Northwest Territories Geological Survey (

The profession of geoscience is looked to by governments, industry and institutions to set standards for the practice and communication of geoscientific information relevant to public safety, sustainable development and capital investment. The profession must also ensure that training of geoscientists delivers the competencies necessary for safe, effective and ethical practice. Professional geoscientists are independently and publically accountable for all the work they do. Each has a duty to stay abreast of advances in their area of expertise including relevant legislation, regulations, and public issues.

This fourth annual GAC-MAC session will again provide topical information about evolving professional issues and responsibilities, including matters of geoethics. Students preparing for registration, and educators will find this session informative. Papers are invited on workforce competencies, evaluations and assessment for registration, and all aspects of professionalism, and ethics in Earth science – in all practice contexts, local, national or global. In particular P. Geo’s are encouraged to submit talks for this session on aspects of their work that may be important and enlightening to students and early career geoscientists. This series relates to the Task Group at the IUGS on Global Geoscience Professionalism (

Innovative Teaching Methods in Post-Secondary Earth Science Courses

Special Session (SS21)

Jennifer Cuthbertson, University of Calgary (

Brandon Karchewski, University of Calgary (
Universities and colleges are increasingly moving away from the traditional “sage on the stage”, instructor-focused teaching format, and towards more inquiry-based, collaborative learning models that are student-focused. In these models, students are actively involved by participating in classroom activities during lecture times. In this session, we invite contributions that describe innovative teaching methods and activities used in post-secondary level Earth Science classes.
Innovation in the use of real geologic data, case studies, integration of field activities and classroom work, team-based learning and blended learning mixing the use of online and in-class activities are among the topics that would be welcome. Where possible, presentation of data quantifying the effects of innovative techniques on student performance and engagement is encouraged. This session is open to papers from all areas of geology and geophysics, and course difficulty ranging from introductory geoscience to graduate-level courses.

General Session

General Session (GS1)

Patrick Sack, Yukon Geological Survey (

Lee Pigage, emeritus Yukon Geological Survey (

Geological research
This session is meant to be a catchall session for authors that don’t feel their abstract fits into one of the Special Sessions. We encourage submission of abstracts to do with all aspects of earth science. Due to space and time constraints, abstracts submitted to this session may be reassigned to other sessions at the discretion of the Technical Program Chairs.