CBU Geology Professor Receives Federal Funding for Research in Nunatsiavut

Dr. Deanne van Rooyen, Associate Professor of Geology at Cape Breton University’s School Science and Technology has recently received federal research funding for a long-term research project that focuses on structural geology, geochronology, and tectonics. The $195,000 grant will be received over a two-and-a-half-year period and is part of a program from Natural Resources Canada, Geomapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM-2), which provides research funding to professors through the competitive Academic Grants and Contributions Program.

As a structural geologist who works in ancient mountain belts van Rooyen’s work focuses on how mountains evolve through time and how the oldest parts of Canada were formed. The funded project is located in Nunatsiavut, in the areas of Nain and Hopedale where two very old continents, the Hopedale block (3.2 to 2.8 billion years old) and the Saglek block (3.9 to 3.2 billion years old) are joined together. They are part of the North Atlantic craton, which used to contain what is now Greenland, bits of Scotland, parts of Scandinavia, and Labrador.

Van Rooyen’s research will focus on the Archean (older than 2.5 billion years) and Paleoproterozoic (between 2.5 and 1.8 billion years) parts of this history to determine the ages of rocks, the specific pressure and temperature conditions they record, and the ways that they interacted when they were all caught up in collisions between continents.

“It is really encouraging to see my work and abilities as a researcher recognized by experts in the field of tectonics,” says Dr. Van Rooyen. “This work will make it possible to continue my research for many years and make a significant contribution to the field of Precambrian Geology in Canada and worldwide.”

The research process involves a combination of field and analytical work. Van Rooyen will be accompanied by two Masters’ students, as well as colleagues from the University of New Brunswick and Dalhousie University. The work involves extensive mapping by helicopter for inland areas and boats along the coast, and collecting samples for further analysis and study.

Dean of Research, Teaching and Graduate Studies Dr. Tanya Brann Barrett, adds, “Dr. van Rooyen’s work could allow the research community to make new discoveries about the earth’s history—which can have an impact on all of us. Also, so many of our human experience are connected to findings from research about natural resources, including many modern conveniences like cellular phones and vehicles. Hence, we are very excited about Dr. van Rooyen’s research.