Research Opportunities for Prospective Students


PhD student Collin Kehler (below) and BSc student Kris Laudansky looking for kyanite by Upper Arrow Lake, SE British Columbia

What can metamorphic petrology tell us about the growth and unroofing of the Cordillera? What are the limitations to interpreting metamorphic rocks using phase diagrams calculated for fixed rock compositions (pseudosections)? What happens when you metamorphose an orebody? Is the equilibrium model for isograd development valid, or are isograds also controlled by kinetic factors? What is the nature of the transition between compressional and extensional tectonics in the Canadian Cordillera? Can we sort out low pressure phase relations in pelites, and better yet, predict them thermodynamically?


If you are interested in these sorts of problems, read on. Our Department has the facilities and expertise for a wide range of petrological and tectonic research, enhanced recently by the newly established lab for in situ Geochronology/Thermochronology. Visit my students and PDFs page to see what my current students are doing, and what past students and PDFs have done. Projects range from field-based to lab-based, and all gradations between. Many involve co-supervision with other members of the Department here at University of Calgary and with other organizations and institutions, including the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at University of Alberta, the Geological Survey of Canada, and provincial/territorial Surveys such as the Manitoba Geological Survey and the Yukon Geological Survey. 


A good background in some or all of petrography, metamorphic petrology and physical chemistry applied to rocks. For field based research, a good background in structural geology and field work. Above all, self-motivation, a real interest in petrology and geology, and a desire to pose questions and solve problems. Candidates from all backgrounds are welcome. Candidates must have a valid driver's license.

In addition to producing a thesis, students will be expected to present their work orally/in poster form at relevant workshops and meetings during their program, and to submit one (MSc) to three (PhD) manuscripts for publication in a peer-reviewed journal prior to graduation. Students may also be asked to contribute to applications for external research and travel support.

If sending an enquiry, please attach a CV, summary of your academic record (courses and grades), and list of three references plus their email addresses. Any examples of work you have done (e.g., reports, papers, abstracts of theses/talks/papers) would be welcome. Please also provide a brief explanation of your background and what kind of research you wish to pursue. If you have questions about what it's like to be a graduate student with me, send an email to my current or recent students! - email addresses and contact information can be found on my students and PDFs page.


I have a range of possible research projects for PhD, MSc and BSc students, some examples of which are listed below. These are divided into three main groupings: Metamorphic petrologyMetamorphism and tectonics; and Metamorphism and ore deposits. The projects range from field-based to lab-based, and gradations between. I am willing to supervise research problems that students bring to me, provided they have a petrological component.

Metamorphic Petrology

Metamorphic recrystallization

  • Equilibrium vs. kinetic controls of metamorphic processes in regional and contact settings: assessing the role and consequences of overstepping 
  • Comparison between mineral assemblage development in rocks that were metamorphosed under significant and insignificant deviatoric stress - the role of deformation in the equilibrium and kinetics of metamorphic recrystallization
  • Relationship between 1) metamorphic pressure inferred from phase diagrams and 2) depth at the time of metamorphism and - are our estimates of depth over-estimates? 

Metamorphic problems in the Canadian Cordillera 

  • What were the conditions and timing of low grade metamorphism (chlorite, biotite and chloritoid zones) in the Rocky and Purcell Mountains of SE BC?
  • Genesis and significance of 'giant diopside' calcsilicates, Kootenay Lake, SE BC
  • Genesis of complex oscillatory zoning in garnets from metamorphosed Pb-Zn ore bodies, SE BC: fluid vs. tectonic effects?

Contact metamorphism and relation to tectonics

  • The petrogenetic significance of kyanite-bearing contact aureoles
  • The emplacement level and tilting of middle Jurassic (Toby, Glacier Creek) through late Cretaceous (Fry Creek, White Creek) intrusions in the Purcell anticlinorium and central Kootenay Arc, SE BC from study of their contact aureoles

Metamorphism and Tectonics

Regional metamorphism and tectonics in the southern Canadian Cordillera

  • Regional study of the emplacement level and age of middle Jurassic through late Cretaceous intrusions in the Purcell anticlinorium and Kootenay Arc, SE BC: depth-time "pins" in the evolution of the Cordillera 
  • Metamorphic contrast and timing across the Slocan Lake Fault, SE BC: separating the effects of late exhumation related to Eocene extension from high temperature exhumation related to Cretaceous-Paleocene compression 
  • Anomalous metamorphic domains in the Canadian Rockies, AB and BC: thermal vs. fault-related boundaries (related to Metamorphic Petrology topic above)
  • Relation between the Valhalla metamorphic culmination and the Kootenay Lake metamorphic high, and their bounding Eocene normal faults (related to no. 2 above)

Metamorphism and Ore Deposits

  • Metamorphism of alteration zones surrounding ore bodies in SE British Columbia: implications for exploration and tectonics
  • Metamorphic P-T-fluid conditions in relation to gold genesis, Rossland, BC
  • Genesis of wollastonite skarn near Rossland, BC - fluid infiltration in low grade grade regional metamorphic rocks?