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Geology, resources and sovereignty: the ongoing effort to map Arctic Canada

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Canada is a polar country with a vast territory. Its onshore expanse ranks second in the world with 10 million km², its landmass further augmented by an additional 7 million km2 of offshore-submerged lands. Canada’s geology is complex, containing the world’s oldest rocks to the youngest sedimentary strata in addition to a rich endowment of mineral and petroleum resources. These unique national geological attributes have created a fertile ground for geological research and exploration, in synergy with Canadian and international academic collaborators including researchers at Cambridge. Today’s presentation will focus on the Canadian Arctic and its unique geological record, the origin of key onshore and offshore features, and how geological research in the eastern Canadian Arctic has helped constrain the emergence of modern plate tectonic processes on planet Earth.

Short bio:

Marc graduated in 1981 from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, with a PhD in Earth Sciences. For >37 years, he has been a project leader at the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), leading field mapping expeditions to study unknown or little-known destinations and phenomena in remote parts of the world, from the Coppermine River area in the western Canadian Arctic (where he discovered the oldest rocks in the world) to Banks Island, the Keewatin, northern Quebec, southeastern, southwestern, central and northern Baffin Island, western Greenland, and the Himalaya of Pakistan, India and Nepal and the Tibetan Plateau in China. His documented contributions to scientific exploration and geological field research are evidenced by the publication of over 125 scientific papers and technical reports and 119 geological maps.

Marc was appointed Senior Research Fellow at Oxford in 2004, Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in 2010, Vice-President (North America) of the Commission for the Geological Map of the World (CGMW) in 2012, Visiting Senior Scholar at Cambridge and Visiting Professor at Oxford in 2019. His passion and knowledge of Arctic geology served as inspiration for a short story entitled “Stone Mattress” by Margaret Atwood, and his innovative work led to the publication of the circumpolar “Geological Map of the Arctic” in 2011, the “Tectonic Map of Arctic Canada” in 2015, the GSC ’s first-ever geological maps in Inuktitut in 2015, the “Tectonic Map of the Arctic” in 2019, and the forthcoming Canada-3D App in 2020.

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society recognized Marc as one of Canada’s “top 100 modern-day explorers” in 2015. He received the Geologic Mapping Award in Honour of Florence Bascom from the Geological Society of America and the Gold Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in 2016.

This talk is part of the Sedgwick Club talks series.

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