Nicole Williamson

PhD student
University of British Columbia

Since I can remember I’ve been inspired and fascinated by our planet’s breathtaking natural features and the complex processes that create them. This passion led me to pursue a B.Sc. Honours in Geology at the University of Ottawa where I specialized in the petrogenesis of hydrothermal barite from black smokers along the Endeavour Segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge. After graduating in 2010, I started a M.Sc. focused on volcanic rocks of the Neoproterozoic Franklin Magmatic Event on Victoria Island, in the western Canadian Arctic. This project established the volcanic stratigraphy and major-element chemostratigraphy of the southern portion of the Natkusiak Formation flood basalts, ultimately providing important insight on the geological processes that helped shape the Canadian Arctic.

Following my M.Sc., I worked for almost two years in environmental consulting, which allowed me to apply my geoscience knowledge to problems in mine waste geochemistry. In 2015, I began a doctoral degree at the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Drs. Weis and Scoates. My project is a geochemical study of lavas from the main shield-building stage of volcanism on Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi’s northernmost island. Kauaʻi is understudied and therefore its mantle source geochemistry is poorly constrained. By conducting systematic field work and high-precision isotopic analyses, this research aims to determine the dominant mantle source compositions of Kauai and how this fits in the context of the geochemical progression along the entire Hawaiian-Emperor Chain. Following my Ph.D., I hope to apply the knowledge I’ve gained in isotope and mantle geochemistry to other volcanic systems on Earth or other planetary bodies.

Participating in the MAGNET program has been a great privilege because it has emphasized the importance of acquiring applicable skills in geochemistry/geoscience and has provided the opportunities to do so. In addition, the numerous networking, mentoring, and teaching opportunities provided through the MAGNET program have played a key role in my professional development.