Sept/Oct 2007

Student Life

From Russia with gold

By S. Vetter

At the Martin-Luther-University Halle, Germany, where I obtained my Master’s in geology and paleontology, my professors pointed out that geologists “have to go out into the field on the rocks, feel them and talk to them, to understand the genesis and its relationship to tectonic and structure.” As I am not an office person and as I like being in the great outdoors, this suited me perfectly.

During my geology studies in Germany, I visited Canada twice and fell in love with this country. In my final year, Dr. Helmstaedt, at Queen’s University, gave me the opportunity to do my degree mapping in the area around the Holleford meteorite crater in Ontario and, therefore, a further chance to study in Canada. When I saw the PhD thesis advertisement from the University of New Brunswick, I jumped at the chance.

My supervisor at UNB, David Lentz, suggested I attend the 12th Quadrennial International Association on the Genesis of Ore (IAGOD) Symposium, which was held in Moscow, Russia, in August of last year. Thanks to funding obtained from NSERC, Stratabound Minerals Corp., First Narrows Resource Corp., and IAGOD, Dr. Lentz and I flew to Kiev to attend a nine-day pre-conference field trip in the Ukrainian Shield and the Carpathian Mountains.

Forty participants from 13 countries joined geologists from the Ukraine. We visited five different gold mines, and looked at drill cores and the surrounding geology to understand the genesis of the deposits. The field trip gave me the chance to compare gold values with the gold deposits in my study area in northern New Brunswick.

I highly recommend that all geoscience students, as well as professional geoscientists, participate in this type of field trip - comparisons can be very valuable and lead to a scientific understanding of the diverse elements that influence geological processes. On the field trip, I jumped at the chance to do what my professors had always told me to do - carry out hands-on observation of rocks and participate in animated scientific discussions. It should be said that my idea of science and of teaching geology is, “Never totally trust another geologist. Learn to question what you are told and taught.” Students have to learn to compare their book knowledge with real-world observations, voice their opinions with their co-workers, professors, and bosses to become skilled geologists themselves. This conference taught me that students have to hold their own ideas and use their understanding and enthusiasm at work.

My poster, which was entitled “Preliminary Comparison of Alteration and Mineralization of two Shear Zone-hosted Gold Occurrences, Brunswick Subduction Complex, New Brunswick, Canada,” garnered a lot of interest due to the exponential climb of gold prices over the past few years. During some very interesting discussions with world class industry scientists and academics, I got objective feedback and fostered potential research linkages for my thesis. Another student working under Dr. Lentz also attended the conference, where she talked about her thesis. She was amazed at the feedback she got from other scientists and members of industry. The scientists offered her support and encouragement to pursue her studies, and also recommended papers for her to consider in the refining of her thesis.

I believe it is very important to see other mines, to network with exploration geologists and scientists from around the world, and to exchange research ideas and knowledge. The sessions were very informative and gave me a summary about general ideas, as well as starting points for more research and concepts to include in my work. For us students, it was a great opportunity to talk to others, see excellent presentations, present our research, and get feedback. A ‘Doctor in Philosophy’ means that we have to share our ideas, defend them against others, and be open for what we think is the right answer with the knowledge at hand. Such conferences and field trips are the best time to do this with colleagues. Student participation is very important, as we are the future geologists and geoscientists that will be making the “big” decisions in the future. People may ask, “Why is it necessary to go on such trips and conferences?” My answer is this: we, as scientists, do not live in a bubble. The world and the people around us influence our thoughts and ideas. Interaction with an international audience is essential for the dissemination of scientific concepts and ideas to a greater audience. This conference has given me the opportunity to voice my opinions, challenge my thought patterns, and interact with people who will no doubt be an inspiration and guide to me in the future.

I am grateful to Dr. Lentz for giving me the opportunity to present a poster at the IAGOD conference. As well, my studies have been greatly enriched thanks to the financial support from industry.

Sabine Vetter is a 3rd-year PhD student in geology at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.

Post a comment


PDF Version