Environmental Geochemistry Research Group

1. Group Profile

The Environmental Geochemistry Research Group at the University of Saskatchewan studies biogeochemical controls on water quality within geohydrologic systems. More specifically, our research is focused on understanding how complex interactions among chemical, biological and physical process influence element mobility within both groundwater and surface water systems. Much of this research is aimed at constraining relationships between minerals, metal(loid)s, and the biogeochemical cycling of carbon, sulfur and iron. Consequently, a majority of our research targets redox-dynamic systems with the overall objective of reducing impacts of mining and other industrial activities on water resources.

2. Infrastructure

The Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory at the University of Saskatchewan houses a range of equipment to support sample handling and processing (i.e., anaerobic chamber, centrifuge, ovens, etc.), laboratory experimentation (i.e., peristaltic pumps, columns, shaker table, etc.), and sample analysis (i.e., spectrophotometers, gas chromatograph). Additional analytical methods including ion chromatography (IC), inductively coupled plasma – optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES), inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), powder X-ray diffraction (XRD), electron microprobe analyzer (EMPA), scanning electron microscopy – energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), and cavity ring down spectroscopy (CRDS) are available in the department. Access to multi-collector – inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS) and thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS) may also be arranged through collaboration with the Saskatchewan Isotope Laboratory. The University of Saskatchewan is also the home of the Canadian Light Source (CLS) – Canada’s only synchrotron – and the Saskatchewan Structural Sciences Centre (SSSC). The CLS supports a range of analytical methods including X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), and synchrotron-based XRD (both powder and micro-focused). Access to the CLS would have to be secured in advance through the general user proposal system or via purchased access. Infrastructure at the SSSC supports additional techniques including Raman spectroscopy and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy.

3. Opportunities

There are several potential opportunities for research exchanges with our research group. These could range from a short visit to access specific infrastructure to a one- or two-term exchange during which a well-defined research project could be conducted. These research projects would be focused on environmental geochemistry in mining environments, but could be developed based upon either student interests or active research being conducted by our research group. In particular, there are opportunities for students or Postdoctoral Fellows to conduct field- or laboratory-based studies on biogeochemistry of oil sands mine wastes.