Research

Themes

Geochemistry provides tools for the fundamental understanding of our planet and has numerous applications to the environment, global change, natural resources, human health and natural hazards.

For example, MAGNET research will promote the development of new techniques to:

  • detect, trace, and mitigate contaminants in the environment
  • document geochemical fluxes and cycles in the world’s oceans
  • determine the timing and recurrence of major geohazards
  • identify and quantify components and their distribution in the Earth’s mantle
  • improve geochemical indices/vectors in previously under-explored terrains

The MAGNET program supports high-impact research in analytical, environmental and exploration geochemistry under three themes:

FRAGILE ECOSYSTEMS
Geochemical tools contribute to the detection and remediation of anthropogenic impacts on the environment by tracing the sources and migration of contamination in the soil, groundwater, and atmosphere. Current MAGNET research includes: Mo and Zn isotopes to study metal release from mine waste; Regional and global atmospheric deposition of contaminants; Nd isotopes in sediments as a proxy of paleocirculation; Hg isotopes in forest ecosystems; Si cycle in modern and past oceans; Mobility of trace metal pollutants in soils; Assessment at oil refinery and spill sites to detect CO2 efflux; Ca and Mg isotopes as groundwater tracers at the site of a planned deep geologic repository for nuclear waste; Cr isotopes to monitor groundwater contamination and as a paleo-proxy.

WINDOWS INTO THE EARTH
The chemical and physical processes that occur within the Earth’s crust and mantle often remain hidden and difficult to investigate. Recent geochemical studies ranging from volcanic emissions and shallow magma chambers to deep mantle plumes have provided valuable information about the nature of the subsurface.
Current MAGNET research includes: Magma plumbing dynamics and degassing associated with major volcanic eruptions (Canary Islands & Nicaragua); Magmatic degassing at active volcanic centers (Nicaragua, California & Iceland); C isotopes as a forecasting tool for volcanic eruptions; Trace element behaviour in mafic layered intrusions (Bushveld Complex, South Africa); Detailed geochemical characterization of Koolau, Hawaii enriched component.

HIDDEN RESOURCES
Geochemistry is a major contributor to mineral exploration programs at all scales, and the development of new geochemical techniques has allowed exploration activity to expand in previously under-explored terrains, including those characterized by thick regolith cover.
Current MAGNET research includes: Geochemistry of the Lac à Paul phosphate deposit; Isotopic heterogeneity in mafic layered intrusions (Kiglapait, Labrador); Geochemical variation across the J-M Reef (Stillwater Intrusion); Distribution of PGE and other chalcophile elements among sulfide minerals from the Voisey’s Bay Ni-Cu sulfide deposit.