Partnership provides opportunities for Geology Students

By Costa Maragos Posted: January 27, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Students study core samples at the Subsurface Geological Laboratory. The undergraduate students are with Geologists Colin Card (centre) and Sean Bosman (second from right).
Students study core samples at the Subsurface Geological Laboratory. The undergraduate students are with Geologists Colin Card (centre) and Sean Bosman (second from right). Photo courtesy of Kathryn Bethune.

Faculty, staff and students at the Department of Geology are looking forward to a continued close relationship with the Saskatchewan Geological Survey (SGS), the organization that compiles and maintains information about the geology, mineral and energy resources in the province.

This collaborative relationship goes back nearly 50 years. Those deep ties will continue, thanks to the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the U of R and Saskatchewan’s Ministry of the Economy, which oversees the Geological Survey.

“This kind of relationship is very important to our department, especially in supporting our student training and research programs,” says Dr. Guoxiang Chi, head of the Department of Geology.

It means students and researchers at the U of R will continue to have free access to the Geological Survey’s core facilities of its Subsurface Geological Laboratory.

“Due to the flat topography in the central and southern part of Saskatchewan, exposures of bedrocks are relatively difficult to find, which may become an obstacle for geological teaching and research,” says Chi. “Fortunately, many rock samples have been collected through drilling, and systematically recorded and stored in the Subsurface Geological Laboratory.”

In many other jurisdictions, viewing the cores by educational institutions come with a cost. However, the unique partnership in Saskatchewan is a big help for students.
“The availability of the core lab located right in the city provides us with resources for several courses in the program,” says Brodie Stroh, a fourth year Geology student. “This grants students the unique experience to work with core samples that would otherwise be impossible. Overall, the relationship between the department and SGS is invaluable to students and creates a unique learning environment that fosters their love for geology.”

There are additional benefits. The Saskatchewan Geological Survey provides some funding for graduate students’ thesis projects; logistical support in the field; summer student employment opportunities; and collaborations with faculty members for research projects.

The research has real applications in the field, from locating additional potash reserves to finding new pools of oil and gas in Saskatchewan. These are areas of field work that have allowed the department to “conduct frontier research in these fields,” says Chi.

“If we did not have this kind of support from Saskatchewan Geological Survey, our students would have fewer opportunities for hands-on learning, and our faculty would not be able to attract as many students to do research on topics related to Saskatchewan geology.”

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