Catherine Armstrong

MSc student
University of British Columbia

After graduating with a B. Sc. Hon. in Geology from McGill University, where I did an honours thesis on tourmaline geochemistry, I was excited to join the MAGNET program at the Univeristy of British Columbia. Under the supervision of Dr. Dominique Weis and Dr. James Scoates, I sampled basalts from Koʽolau volcano, in Hawaiʽi, that contain the highest concentrations of incompatible trace elements of any Hawaiian shield stage basalts. Because they preserve this enriched geochemical signature from deep in the mantle, basalts from Koʽolau are ideal for studying the source of the enriched component in the Hawaiian mantle plume. Using high-precision analytical techniques at the Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research, we expanded the existing dataset of radiogenic isotopes, trace elements, and major elements for these enriched basalts by thoroughly sampling Makapuʽu Point, the type section for the enriched signature at Hawaiʽi, and by sampling two new locations on the Koʽolau shield. With these results, we will determine how the geochemical enrichment expressed during Koʽolau’s shield stage varied in time and space, and consider the possible source reservoirs that created this signature in the mantle.

As a MAGNET trainee, I attended online seminars presented by a range of industry and academic scientists, which exposed me to questions I never anticipated. Thanks to the seminar series and to my internship at Avalon Advanced Materials, I was introduced to the myriad ways that geochemical techniques are applied in the mining, environmental, and energy sectors. I’ve met other geochemistry researchers from universities across Canada, and have seen some amazing places during our workshops, like Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories, Yellowstone National Park and the beautiful Beartooth Mountains. I’ve also learned quite a bit about teaching and planning learning activities, thanks to the student-run seminars and field trips. I’m grateful that the MAGNET program afforded me to so many diverse learning opportunities.