Student Research

Current student research

Past student research

  • Spatial analysis of geochemical trends at Nanoose Bay, BC J. Williamson, J. Hussey, K. Labrenz, L. Richards, supervised by Sandra Johnstone (GEOL 308 2022).   The petrogenesis of Vancouver Island’s Nanoose Complex in relation to surrounding units is poorly understood, with a limited amount of geochemical research performed in the area. Previous work by Yorath et al (1999) and Ruks (2015) attempts to characterize the volcanic setting of the complex with mixed results. Since 2009, VIU students have built on this foundational work by using various discrimination methods and an expanding library of geochemical data. The aim of this project is threefold: 1) complete the major oxide and trace element data catalogue for previously collected basalt samples; 2) re-visit discrimination diagrams with a larger dataset; and 3) complete a geographic analysis of trends in discrimination-based distributions.  Our sample areas include Dolphin Beach and Ainsley Beach, located to the North and South of a pluton, respectively. We found that Dolphin Beach’s basalts are more evolved relative to Ainsley Beach’s basalts, with an anomalously high Sr/Y ratio between them.

  • Developing a digital geo-data mobilization strategy.  Sonja Lindberg, supervised by Sandra Johnstone and Kathleen Reid.  Developing a research and database management plan, following industry best-practices, to standarize, preserve, and publish data from undergraduate research conducted in the Vancouver Island University Earth Science Department.

  • Coastal erosion in the Parksville area, Vancouver Island. Byron Johnston, supervised by Jerome Lesemann. Investigating a site of coastal erosion on a sea cliff composed Quaternary sediments
  • A Geochemical Study of Trace Elements in Basalts at Nankivell Point, Nanoose Bay, British Columbia. N. Dean, N. Temos, M. Young, D. Massier, H. Bennett, S. Woodward, supervised by Sandra Johnstone (GEOL 308 April 2020).  Nanoose Bay is currently mapped by the BC Geological Survey (BCGS) as Upper Permian Sicker Group (360-270 ma) of oceanic-arc origin at Nankivell Point in the North, Triassic Karmutsen Formation (237-227 ma) of mid-ocean ridge origin at Ainsley Beach in the south and the Early Jurassic Bonanza plutonic island intrusions (174-201 ma). Contrary to the BCGS geological map, previous VIU geochemical studies at Ainsley Beach exhibit geochemical distinction from the Karmutsen Formation with geochemical signatures indicating a tectonomagmatic evolution from arc-style subduction to extensional rifting with distance from the Jurassic Bonanza. The aim of this study is to prove that the units surrounding the Bonanza intrusion are, in fact, genetically related and to analyze the geochemistry of this lithology to that of regional data for signature correlation. If the basalts within our study area are genetically related, we expect to see a compositional evolution in trace element data from an arc-signature to MORB with distance from the Bonanza intrusion as samples are collected from east to west.
  • Architectural element analysis of paleo submarine fan systems, Hornby and Denman Islands, BC.  H. Bennett, A. Cankovic, G De Laplante, N. Dean, M. Gaber, K. Hickey, T. Isbister, N. Kinakin, B. Lavigne, K. Lokken, C. Rossetto, M. Stearn, N. Temos, L. Wagner, C. Wojciuk, supervised by Jerome Lesemann (GEO 470 April 2019).  The basin sediments of the Nanaimo Group comprise the majority of the bedrock in the Gulf islands, and provide an extensive record of ancient depositional environments. While the Nanaimo Group sediments are traditionally considered lithostratigraphically, consisting of clear well-defined boundaries and sequencing of formations, it was observed in the field that these units vary considerably in lateral extent and continuity. While facies models are traditionally applied to sedimentary deposits to interpret the environment of paleo-deposition, we find that the current lithostratigraphic log oversimplifies the depositional environment and does not represent the complex and three-dimensional architecture of the local deposits, limiting the functionality of facies models alone for depositional reconstruction. Instead, architectural analysis of depositional elements, in conjunction with parsed and reorganized facies studies, allows a more realistic perspective of the basin characteristics in which the Nanaimo Group sediments were deposited.

  • Nanaimo Group sedimentary basin analysis Fraser, Andrew; Groat Saluk, Kyle; Henderson, Graeme; Kimbley, Mikael; Johnston, Byron(April 2017)  There is considerable disagreement amongst geologists about the type of sedimentary basin involved during the Nanaimo Group formation. This poster presents information about possible sedimentary basin types and sources.

  • Geological study of basalts on the Nanoose Peninsula. GEOL300 students (Spring 2015) and GEOL308 students (Spring 2016), supervised by Sandra Johnstone. Projects to determine whether a basalt unit at Ainsley Beach was correctly mapped as Karmutsen by using petrological and geochemical methods.
  • Hydrological Evaluation of Karst Springs on Stramberg Farm, Quadra Island, BC.  Lorill Ireland, supervised by Tim Stokes.  Monitoring of karst springs and dye tracing to determine subsurface flow paths and catchments
  • A History of Deformation within the Nanaimo Group: Stevenson Point, Vancouver Island, BC Michael Freer, supervised by Tim Stokes.   Detailed structural and stratigraphic mapping of the unconformity between the Nanaimo Group and Karmutsen Formation at Stephenson point unraveling the complex sequence of geological events
  • Development of a Preliminary Seismic Hazard Map for the City of Nanaimo, BC. Ginny Casey and supervised by Tim Stokes.  GIS project using surficial geology and other mapping data for the Nanaimo Region to develop a preliminary seismic hazard map for amplification, liquefaction and landslides.
  • Development and Evaluation of Geoscience Place-based Learning Activities for Departure Bay Elementary Eco-School, Nanaimo, BC. Jamie Anderson, and supervised by Tim Stokes.  Examining the role of geoscience education in the schools and enhancing learning using a range of class and field-based techniques
  • Mapping and Analysis of Geologic Structures, Surface Karst Features and Subsurface Passages at Horne Lak Caves Provincial Park, BC. Louis Chapdelaine and supervised by Tim Stokes.  Completed structural mapping of the karst surface and used 3D modelling to integrate surface structures with subsurface cave openings and passageways.
  • Assessment of the Stratigraphy and Permeability of the Quadra Sand Deposits at Deep Bay. Angela Mays, supervised by Steve Earle. This project contributed to a better understanding of the groundwater conditions at the new site for VIU’s Centre for Shellfish Research
  • Effects of Open-Loop Geothermal Pumping on Surrounding Geology and Groundwater Geochemistry. Nathaniel Donald, supervised by Steve Earle. This study investigated the effects of open-loop geo-exchange pumping on the chemistry of groundwater