Last updated: July 25, 2017 @ 09:32AM
Master of Science in Earth Sciences
Field(s) of Specialization
Faculty of Mathematics and Science
Acting Associate Dean
Faculty of Mathematics and Science
Uwe Brand (Earth Sciences), Richard J. Cheel (Earth Sciences), Frank Fueten (Earth Sciences), Martin J. Head (Earth Sciences), Francine M. McCarthy (Earth Sciences), John Menzies (Earth Sciences and Geography)
Gregory C. Finn (Earth Sciences), Daniel P. McCarthy (Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences), Mariek E. Schmidt (Earth Sciences)
Nigel Blamey (Earth Sciences)
Participating Graduate Faculty
Michael Pisaric (Geography)
Kevin Turner (Geography)
Paul Budkewitsch (Natural Resources Canada), Dale Hess (SUNY Buffalo), Lisa Neville (Geological Survey of Canada), Andrew Panko (Brownfield Revolutions Inc.), Hernan Ugalde (Paterson, Grant & Watson Limited).
Graduate Program Director
Mackenzie Chown D431
905-688-5550, extension 3526
Graduate students in Earth Sciences join a research-intensive environment and undertake work with internationally recognized faculty who contribute to a wide variety of geoscientific fields. The Department of Earth Sciences emphasizes personal and tailored graduate supervision. Research areas include: glacial geology and geomorphology, watershed geochemistry, lichen biomonitoring, marine and terrestrial palynology, isotope carbonate geochemistry, Quaternary geology, structural geology of Earth and Mars, and volcanology/igneous petrology of Earth and Mars.
Earth Sciences graduates are prepared for careers responding to the needs of world governments, industries and social structures facing global change.
Successful completion of an Honours Bachelor's degree, or equivalent, in Earth Sciences, with a minimum 75% average. Agreement from a faculty advisor to supervise the student is also required for admission to the program. Applicants holding a degree without sufficient concentration in the area of the intended Master's degree may be required to complete additional courses beyond those outlined as required for degree completion.
The Graduate Admissions Committee will review all applications and recommend admission for suitable candidates.
Those lacking sufficient background preparation may be required to complete a qualifying term/year to upgrade their applications. Completion of a qualifying term/year does not necessarily guarantee acceptance into the program.
Part-time study is available.
Students must complete ERSC 5F90 (Thesis), ERSC 5P95 and two ERSC half-credit courses numbered 5(alpha)00 or higher. Additional credits may be required of candidates with insufficient preparation in their area of research specialization.
For full time students, the program is normally a six term or two year program.
The Department is fully equipped with geochemistry, palynology, sedimentology, hydrology, dendrochronology, lichenometry, flume, petrographic and micromorphology laboratories. In addition, the Department shares an x-ray diffractometer with the Physics Department and the facilities of electronic, machine, woodworking and glassblowing shops with other departments.
Note that not all courses are offered in every session. Refer to the applicable timetable for details.
Students must check to ensure that prerequisites are met. Students may be deregistered, at the request of the instructor, from any course for which prerequisites and/or restrictions have not been met.
A research project involving the preparation and defence of a thesis which will demonstrate a capacity for independent work. The research shall be carried out under the supervision of a faculty member and the thesis defended at an oral examination.
Study of the relationship between strain and fabric elements in tectonites. Textures. Multiple strain histories and textures. Relationships between strain and geotectonics.
Structural evolution of different types of "orogenic" belts. Emphasis will be on Canadian examples where possible. Limitations that structural evolution places on the acceptability of proposed tectonic models. Global systems of orogenic belts through time.
Phanerozoic climates, with special emphasis on the Quaternary. Techniques of climate reconstruction: fossil assemblages, stable isotope analysis, dendrochronology, sedimentary evidence. Causes of climatic change. Implications for predicting future climates.
Geological record of palynomorphs from the Precambrian to present, with emphasis on the marine realm and evolution of the acritarchs and dinoflagellates.
Concepts and techniques in palynological investigations of marine and terrestrial Quaternary deposits; the Pleistocene and Holocene climatic changes; applied atmospheric palynology, dispersal of palynomorphs.
Microfossils and their Practical Applications
Marine and terrestrial microfossils and their application to paleoecology, environmental science, physical geography, geoarcheology, paleobiology and biostratigraphy. Field and laboratory techniques, methods of data analysis and interpretation, as well as case studies.
Environmental and Watershed Geochemistry
Principles of availability, mobility and accumulation of metals in the lithosphere and hydrosphere. Cycling of metals in soils and soil chemistry. Chemical weathering and stability regimes of minerals in aqueous systems. Anthropogenic influence on inorganic contaminants in sediments, soils and water. Quality control and assurance of sampling procedures.
Geochronological methods and techniques applicable to correlation and dating of Quaternary deposits and events (radiocarbon dating, varved sediments, the fossil record, paleomagnetism, tephrochronology, dendrochronology, paleotemperatures). Quaternary chronology in Canada and correlation with other parts of the world.
Study of the physics of glaciers. Mass balance and glacier budget. Mechanics of glacier movement. Conditions of the ice/glacier bed interface. Dynamics of large ice masses. Glacier surges. Response of glaciers to changes in mass balance. Glaciers and climate. Glacier dynamics and glacial landforms.
Correlation between modern ecosystems and those in the fossil record; reconstruction of past environments and the time-sequence of such environments. Applied paleoecology; delineation of past sedimentary basins using biofacies and lithofacies; evolutionary development of ecosystems; paleoecosystem analysis and models.
Late Cenozoic Dinoflagellate Cysts
Biology and ecology of modern cyst-producing dinoflagellates, and the record of dinoflagellate cysts through the late Cenozoic including their morphology, taxonomy, paleoecology, biostratigraphy, molecular phylogeny, and evolution. Topics will include marine paleoenvironmental reconstruction, paleoceanography, paleoclimatology, and oil industry applications.
Study of modern depositional environments with emphasis on processes and the resulting facies organization. Development of facies models and their application to selected ancient examples.
A detailed survey of volcano morphology, distribution of Quaternary volcanic belts, experimental volcanic petrology and volcanic geochemistry. The current ideas on the interrelations between volcanics and plate tectonics are summarized and the volcanic processes of the present are compared to those of the geological past, including ancient continental shield volcanic rocks.
Geochemical controls on ore deposit formation; investigation into geochemical indicators such as stable isotopes, fluid inclusions; aqueous geochemistry including equilibrium in ore fluids; metal solubility in hydrothermal and geothermal fluids.
Descriptive and chemical diagenesis of carbonates. Geochemistry of inorganic and organic carbonate grains. Low temperature thermodynamics of elemental and isotopic redistribution. Application of biogeochemistry and chemostratigraphy to global events and evolutionary processes.
Quantitative Methods in Geology
Elements of data analysis and programming. Applications of statistical methods to geological data. Stochastic models in geology.
Prerequisite(s): an undergraduate course in statistics.
Principles of flow dynamics. Origin and measurement of turbulent and laminar flows; bed roughness; shear stress and velocity. Flow competence; drag and lift forces, initiation of motion, suspension and bedload. Flow capacity, deterministic and probability models of sediment transport. Field studies of steep gravel and bedrock channels.
Formation of lake basins; physical and chemical characteristics of lake sediments and the water column; geological factors in the development of lakes; eutrophication; the fossil record in lake deposits; lakes as a resource (water consumption, recreation, conservation).
Modern concepts of glaciers and glaciation as landscape forming factors; techniques and methods for study and mapping of Quaternary deposits and physiographic features; the influence of glaciation as a factor in Canadian land use.
Techniques in Biomonitoring
Biomonitoring techniques both in the lab and field with an emphasis on the use of lichens and/or tree bark in biomonitoring. Fumigation experiments, field identification, inventory mapping, and the use of lichen bags to investigate air pollution and geochemical analysis of plant tissue.
Biomonitoring in Urban Environments
The history, theory and techniques of biomonitoring, particularly the use of biomonitoring in Canada. The use of fish, moss and lichens, higher plants, worms and insects as bioindicators of air and water quality.
Students will present two seminars: one on their thesis topic, and the other on a different topic. The latter will be supplemented by a corresponding essay. The seminar on their thesis topic may be substituted by a presentation at a non-departmental meeting, if agreed by the supervisory committee.
Note: attendance at all departmental seminars throughout the academic year is required.
Selected Topics in Quaternary Science
An investigation of a specific area or group of related topics in Quaternary science. This course will be designed for individual students and approved by the graduate studies advisory committee.
Selected Topics in Crustal Studies
An investigation of a specific area or group of related topics in Crustal studies. This course will be designed for individual students and approved by the graduate studies advisory committee.
Selected Topics in Contemporary Geology
An investigation of a specific area or group of related topics in contemporary geology. This course will be designed for individual students and approved by the graduate studies advisory committee.