Maria Velez

Professor, Ph.D.
Associate Dean (Engagement and Partnerships), Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research

Office: CW 230.2
Phone: 306-337-2939
Fax: 306-585-5433

Current classes
GEOL 240 - Earth System History, GEOL 241 - Paleontology, GEOL 490AI - Environmental Micropalentology, GEOL 490AK - Quaternary Environments

Research interests
Paleontology; Quaternary Geology

B.Sc. Geology (EAFIT University, Colombia); M.Res. (University of Edinburgh, U.K.); Ph.D. (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands).

Expertise and areas of study:

Dr. Maria Velez's expertise is mainly in the field of Paleontology and Quaternary Geology. Her main area of research is on paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic reconstruction of Quaternary environments using diatoms, isotopes and sediments. The main focus is on the understanding of the impact of natural (climatic) and anthropogenic forces on aquatic ecosystems. Her current projects include: Pleistocene/Holocene environmental and climatic change in the Neotropics; Environmental effect of Spanish colonization in the Neotropics; Extreme climatic events in Saskatchewan during the Holocene, and Cretaceous microfossils of Saskatchewan. Dr. Velez has also worked on lower Paleozoic trilobites of Gondwana.

Courses taught:

GEOL 201. Internal Processes of the Earth. This course examines the internal processes of the earth and its constitutive materials. It treats the earth as a dynamic system where cycles and processes are linked and influence each other. It will attend to rock cycles, composition, and formation, stratigraphy, the geological time scale and plate tectonics, while highlighting throughout scientific knowledge about these matters is produced.

GEOL 241. Paleontology. This course is designed to provide students with basic knowledge about the main groups of invertebrate fossils, their taxonomy and systematic classification. The course examines methods of classification of species, the stratigraphic distribution of the main group of fossils, the mechanisms of biological evolution, modes of fossilization and preservation of fossils, and the different uses of fossils. It attends briefly as well to matters of paleoecology and paleobiogeography.

GEOL 240. Earth’s Systems History.  This course is designed to provide students with knowledge about the evolution of the Earth, in other words with the Earth’s big history. The first part of the course examines the Earth as a big system and each one of its main sub-systems. The second part examines the major geological and biological events over the course of geologic time. From the undergraduate calendar: “Inter-connected evolution of atmosphere-biosphere-lithosphere over the course of geologic time, its forcing mechanisms, interactions, and feedbacks. Major physical and biological global events emphasizing North America and Western Canada”.

GEOL 396. Field School - I. 2008-2010.

GEOL 414. Geology of Siliciclastic rocks. This course examines the depositional models using modern sedimentary analogues to interpret ancient environments. Through this course students will acquire knowledge about the structural and compositional characteristics of siliclastic rocks, main depositional environments and will develop skills on reconstruction of past depositional environments.

GEOL 490 AK. Quaternary Environments. This course introduces the student into general aspects of the Quaternary Period. It will review subjects related to why it is important to study the Quaternary, in other words, its relevance, what are the main methodologies employed to reconstruct Quaternary environments (how we know what we know) and the main climate oscillations, its causes and impacts on ecosystems. It will attend also to aspects of environmental change caused by human activities and the importance of paleo-environmental reconstructions in the conservation and management of natural ecosystems.

GEOL 400 AI. Quaternary micropaleontology. This course has several objectives: (1) to familiarize the student with the two main applications of micropaleontology: environmental and biostratigraphic (geologic) and (2) to familiarize the student with basic taxonomy of foraminifera and diatoms. At the end of this course the student will be able to (1) recognize the main groups of diatoms and forams (2) know their main application and (3) know how to start basic research in micropaleontology.

Selected recent publications:

Seitz, C., Velez, M.I., Perillo, G.M.E. 2021. Response of shallow lakes in the arid-semiarid Pampas of Argentina to Late Holocene hydroclimatic change. Quaternary International.

Lopera-Congote, L., Salgado, J., Vélez, M.I., Link, A., González-Arango, C. 2021. River connectivity and climate behind the long-term evolution of tropical American floodplain lakes. Ecology and Evolution DOI:10.1002/ece3.7674

Scott, C., Zilio, M., Harmon, T, Zuniga, A., Díaz, R., Caravantes, T., Hoyos, N., Perillo, G.E.M., Meza, F., Varady, R., Ribeiro Neto, A., Velez, M.I., Martín, F., Escobar, J., Piccolo, C., Mussetta, P., Montenegro, S., Rusak, J. and Pineda, N. Do ecosystem insecurity and social vulnerability lead to failure of water security? Environmental Development 38 (2021) 100606. DOI

Velez, M.I., Salgado J., Brenner, M., Hooghiemstra, H., Escobar, J., Boom, A., Bird, B., Curtis, J., Temoltzin-Loranca, Y., Patiño, L.F., Gonzalez-Arango, C., Metcalfe, S.E., Simpson, G.L., Velasquez, C. 2021. Novel responses of diatoms in neotropical mountain lakes to indigenous and post-European occupation. The Anthropocene 34 (2021) 100294

Jaramillo, D., Velez, M.I., Escobar, J.H., Pardo-Trujillo, A., Vallejo, F., Villegas, J.C., Acevedo, A.L., Curtis, J., Rincón, H. and Trejos-Tamayo, R. 2021. Mid to Late Holocene Dry Events in the Wettest Place on Earth associated with changes in regional atmospheric circulation. Quaternary Science Reviews

Patino, L.F., Velez, M.I., Weber, M. Velasquez, C., David, S., Rueda, D., Castaneda, I., 2020. Late Pleistocene-Holocene environmental history of a freshwater paramo ecosystem in the Northern Andes." Journal of Quaternary Science. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.3249

Velez, M.I., MacKenzie, K., Boom, A., Bremond, L., Gonzalez, N. Carr, A. and Berrio, J.C. 2020. Lacustrine responses to mid-late Holocene anthropogenic activities in the northern tropical Andes. Journal of Paleolimnology. DOI 10.1007/s10933-020-00152-y

Seitz, C., Scordo, F., Vitale, A.J., Velez, M.I., Perillo, G.M.E. 2020. The effects of extreme drought events on the morphometry of shallow lakes: implications for sediment resuspension and littoral and pelagic zone distribution. Journal of South American Earth Science 103(2020)102743

Salgado, J., Velez, M.I., Gonzalez-Arango, C., Rose, N., Yang, H., Huguet, C., Camacho, J. and O'Dea, A. 2020. A century of limnological evolution and interactive threats in the Panama Canal: Long-term assessments from a shallow basin. Science of the Total Environment 729 -138444

Escobar, J., Serna, Y., Hoyos, N., Velez, M.I., Correa-Metrio, A., 2020. Why we need more paleolimnology studies in the tropics. Short Note Journal of Paleolimnology.

Serna, Y., Correa-Metrio, A., Francis-Kenneth, W., Curtis, J., Velez, M., Brenner, M., Hoyos, N., Restrepo, J., Cordero-Oviedo, C., Buck, D., Suarez, N., and Escobar, J. 2020. Post-colonial pollution of the Bay of Cartagena, Colombia. Journal of Paleolimnology 63:21-35

Salgado J, Velez MI, Caceres-Torres LC, Villegas-Ibagon JA, Bernal-Gonzalez LC, Lopera-Congote L, Martinez-Medina NM and Gonzalez-Arango C. 2019. Long-term habitat degradation drives neotropical macrophyte species loss while assisting the spread of invasive plant species. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 7:140. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00140

Seitz, C., Perillo, G. and Velez, M. Geological study of Cenozoic sediments in the surrounding area of La Salada shallow lake. 2019. Andean Geology 46 (1): 131-152. doi: 10.5027/andgeoV46n1-3060

Hoyos, N., Correa-Metrio, A., Jepsen, S.M., Wemple, B., Valencia, S., Marsik, M., Doria, R., Escobar,J., Restrepo, J.C. and Velez, M.I. 2019. Modeling Streamflow Response to Persistent Drought in a Coastal Tropical Mountainous Watershed, Sierra Nevada De Santa Marta, Colombia. Water

Kolaceke, A., Velez, M.I., Coulson, I.M., Barbi, M. and Tokaryk, T. 2018. Lithostratigraphy of sections in the vicinity of the excavation site of a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton (Scotty) in, southwestern Saskatchewan, Canada; in Summary of Investigations 2018, Volume 1, Saskatchewan Geological Survey, Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources, Miscellaneous Report A-6 in Miscellaneous Report 2018-4.1,12p

Siver, P., Velez, M., Cliveti, M. and Binda, P. Early freshwater diatoms from the Upper Cretaceous Battle Formation in Western Canada. 2018. PALAIOS, v. 33, 525-534. DOI:

Velez, M.I., Conde, D., Lozoya, J.P. Rusak, J., Garcia-Rodriguez, F., Seitz, C., Harmon, T., Perillo, G.M.E., Escobar, J. and Vilardy, S. 2018. Paleoenvironmental Reconstructions Improve Ecosystem Services Risk Assessment: Case Studies From Two Coastal Lagoons In South America. Water. 10, 1350; doi:10.3390/w10101350

Benito Granell, X., Fritz, S., Steinitz-Kannan, M., Vélez, M., McGlue, M. 2018. Lake regionalization and diatom metacommunity structuring in tropical South America. Ecology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.4305. 1-14

Temoltzin-Loranca,Y., Velez, M., Moreno, J.E., Escobar, J. 2018. Late Holocene environmental history of Lake Boquete and its watershed: human or natural causes involved? Bol. Soc. Geol. Mex. 70(1):121-131.

Diaz, J. and Velez, M.I. 2018. Late Cretaceous radiolarians from a bentonite-rich interval at the base of the Niobrara Formation, southwestern Saskatchewan, Canada: biostratigraphic and paleoenvironmental implications. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 55(3):321-329

Velez, M.I. Jaramillo, C., Salazar, A., Benito, X., Fritz, S., Tapia, P., Lubiniecki, D., Kar, N. and Escobar, J. 2018. Freshwater ecosystems in a newly formed ecospace: Early Pliocene lakes in the Central Andean Altiplano. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 490:218-226

Diaz, J.F. and Velez, M.I. 2017. Foraminiferal biostratigraphy of the middle Turonian-early Coniacian interval in southern Saskatchewan, Canada. Bulleting of Canadian Petroleum Geology. 65 (3): 366-386

Jaramillo D., Vallejo D. F., Vélez M., Restrepo S., Pardo, A., Trejos R. and Murcia, H. 2017. Middle Pleistocene paleolimnology of a dammed tropical river: The Zarzal Formation, Cauca Valley, Colombia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 487:194-203

Bird, B., Rudloff, O., Escobar, J., Gilhooly III, W., Correa-Metrio, A., Velez, M. and Polissar, P. Paleoclimate support for a persistent dry island effect in the Colombian Andes during the last 4700 years. 2017. The Holocene 1-12. DOI: 10.1177/0959683617721324

Diaz, J.F. and Velez, M.I. 2016.New insights on the lithostratigraphic nomenclature of the Carlile and Niobrara formations in southern Saskatchewan; in Summary of Investigations 2016, Volume 1, Saskatchewan Geological Survey, Saskatchewan Ministry of the Economy, Miscellaneous Report 2016-4.1, Paper A-2, 10p.

Correa-Metrio, A., Velez, M.I., Escobar, J., St-Jacques, J., Curtis, J. and Cosford, J. 2016. Mid-Elevation ecosystems of Panama: future uncertainties in light of past global climatic variability. 2016. Journal of Quaternary Science. Dec. 2016. ISSN 0267-8179. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2899

Diaz, J. and Velez, M. Preliminary biostratigraphic analysis of the Carlile and Niobrara formations in Southwestern Saskatchewan. Summary of Investigations 2015, Volume 1, Saskatchewan Geological Survey, Saskatchewan Ministry of the Economy, Miscellaneous Report 2015-4.1, Paper A-1, 19p.

Serna, Y., Velez, M., and Escobar, J. 2015. Microscopic organic matter particles in late Holocene riparian sediments near the Cauca River, Colombia. Journal of Paleolimnology. 54:325-344

de Boer, E., Vélez, M, Rijsdijk, K., de Louw, P., Vernimmen, Tamara, Visser, P, Tjallingii, R., and Hooghiemstra, H. 2015. A deadly cocktail: How a drought around 4200 cal. yr BP caused mass mortality events at the infamous ‘dodo swamp’ in Mauritius. The Holocene. Published first online DOI: 10.1177/0959683614567886

Velez M, Escobar J, Brenner M, Rangel O, Betancur A, Jaramillo A, Curtis J and Moreno, J. 2014. Middle to late Holocene relative sea level rise along the Colombian Caribbean coast inferred from a sediment core taken in the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta. The Holocene. 24: 898 –907

Chen Y, Qing H, Velez M, Liu, M., Wei D., Cai, Y. 2014. Climatic Response of Vegetation Inferred from Surface Pollen from Dalianhai Lake, Gonghe Basin, Northeastern Tibetan Plateau. Acta Geoscientica Sinica. 35:1-8

De Boer EJ, Tjallingii R, Vélez MI, Rijsdijk KF, Vlug A, Reichart G-J, Prendergast AL, De Louw PGB, Florens FBV, Baider C, Hooghiemstra H, 2014. Climate variability in the SW Indian Ocean from an 8000-yr long multi-proxy record in the Mauritian lowlands shows a middle to late Holocene shift from negative IOD-state to ENSO-state. Quaternary Science Reviews. 86: 175 - 189.

Van Boxel, J., Gonzalez-Carranza, Z., Hooghiemstra, H., Bierkens, M and Velez, M. 2014. Reconstructing past precipitation from lake levels and inverse modelling for Andean lake La Cocha. Journal of Paleolimnology. 51:45-62

De Boer E., Slaikovska M., Hooghiemstra H., Rijsdijk K., Vélez M.I., Prins M., Baider C., Vincent Florens C.F. 2013. Multi-proxy reconstruction of environmental dynamics and colonization impacts in the Mauritian uplands, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 383–38: 42-51

Martínez J.I., Mayr C., Yokoyama Y., Velez M.I., Battarbee R. 2013. The San Nicolás succession of the Cauca paleolake: A late Holocene laminated high-resolution, ria lake record from the Neotropics. Journal of Paleolimnology  49:287-300 

Velez M.I., Martínez J.I. and Suter F. 2013.  A Mid-Late Holocene History of the Floodplain Lakes of the Cauca River, Colombia.  Journal of Paleolimnology. 49:591-604 

Harvey T, Vélez M and Butterfield N. 2012. Exceptionally preserved crustaceans from western Canada reveal a cryptic Cambrian radiation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science PNAS. 109: 1589-1594

Gonzalez-Carranza Z., Hooghiemstra H. and Vélez M.I. 2012. A 14,000 yr pollen and diatom based record of environmental and climatic change from South Colombian Andes shows decadal climate variability. The Holocene. 22:1227-1241

Harvey T, Vélez M, Butterfield N. 2012. Small carbonaceous fossils from the Earlie and Deadwood Formations (Middle Cambrian to Lower Ordovician) of Saskatchewan. Summary of Investigations: Saskatchewan Geological Survey, Sask Ministry of Economy, 2012-4.1- Paper A-1,8 p.

Velez M.I., Curtis J., Brenner M., Escobar J., Leyden B.W. and Popenoe de Hatch M. 2011. Environmental and cultural changes in highland Guatemala inferred from lake sediments from lake Amatitlán sediments. 2011. Geoarchaeology. 26:346-264.

Garcia Y.C., Martínez J.I., Vélez M.I., Yokoyama Y., Battarbee R. and Suter F., 2011. Palynofacies analysis of the late Holocene San N   icolas terrace of the Cauca paleolake, northern South America. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 299:298-308

Suter F., Martinez J.I. and Velez M.I. 2011. Holocene soft-sediment deformation of the Santa Fe-Sopetrán Basin, northern Colombian Andes: evidence for Prehispanic seismic activity? Sedimentary Geology 235:188-199