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Student work experiences

After second and third year of study, our students typically land interesting summer positions that combine paid work with a great learning experience:

Alex Marcotte: Exploration in the Yukon, Summer 2007

Summer 2007 was a blast!  I was hired by an exploration company from June to September to work up in the Yukon.  I was based out of one of their exploration camps 300 km from the nearest town in the Wernecke mountains with a group of other students.  We were helping in the uranium exploration program and did various things throughout the summer: soil sampling, silt sampling, prospecting, geophysics grids with gravity and radioactivity, core logging as well as learning how to run a drill program.  One of the best parts about it; I got to take a helicopter to work everyday!  I also had the opportunity explore areas no one has been to before.  We all had a great time in the remote areas with just us and the caribou!

photo: Alex collecting samples at Bear River
bear river


Nicole DeBond: Summer reserach in Northern Maine, summer 2007

This summer I spent two weeks in Northern Maine with four other students and Dr. Charly Bank, as well as a group from the University of Maine at Presque Isle doing the field component of a third year research credit.  It was a fantastic opportunity to learn how to operate different types of geophysical equipment.  We carried out ground penetrating radar (GPR) and seismic refraction surveys on a rock glacier, and used GPR and magnetometry at an archaeological site.  The work was challenging and rewarding, and we'll see the results take shape as we process the data during the school year.  I enjoyed meeting and working with students from another university with similar interests.  And the trip to the rock glacier was the best commute to work I've ever had: driving down a logging road, followed by a hike and canoe trip across a lake!  It has certainly been a highlight of the time I've spent at the University of Toronto so far!

photo: Nicole trying out the geophysical equipment
nicole in maine


Andisheh Beiki: Research at Ship Rock, New Mexico, 2006


photo: Andisheh (right) and Sarina (left, student from Carleton College Minnesota) ready to head out for our magnetometer walk. It was certainly a beautiful day!

In July of 2006, I worked on a Geophysics research project in New Mexico. It had always been a dream for me to work with a team of scientists on a joint project and I never realized that I could be part of such a team so soon in my life. I heard about the position through an email from the Undergraduate Geology Association (UGA) at U of T and decided to apply since the project sounded extremely fascinating and suited my interests in geology and physics very well. Surprisingly, it turned out that the director of the project had been my professor for the 2 nd year Dynamic Geology course. Other professors involved were from different Universities in the U.S. and they each brought specific knowledge and experience to the project. There were six other students involved and each person's experience in geology and life was very different from mine. I found it fascinating to live and learn from these people for a month.

The project, which is still ongoing, involves an investigation of the structure of Ship Rock, which is believed to be an eroded maar-diatreme volcanoe. In order to understand the subsurface structure and find all regions of dike flow, we conducted a magnetic survey of the region. We surveyed around the diatreme using magnetometers and recorded data to be used to construct a magnetic map of the area. In the afternoons and evenings, we dedicated most of our time to trouble shooting and preliminary analysis of the collected data. Further reductions, processing, and modeling of the data will continue throughout this year. The final results will be essential to understanding the formation of the Ship Rock structure.

In addition to the spectacular geology of the Southwest, we found ourselves among the traditional people of the Navajo Nation. Therefore, not only did I gain experience in geophysical research and fieldwork, but I also gained some understanding of the culture and background of the Navajo people. It was really quite amazing for me to see and learn so much in the relatively short interval of one month. I truly appreciate the knowledge that I have gained and will definitely apply my new skills in future works. There are also many fun memories of the trip that will always make me happy when I think back. So many jokes were made and so much fun came out of our hard work; it was an amazing experience and I'm glad that geology led me this.

Neil Fernandes: exploring for gold, British Columbia, 2006


photo: Neil leaning against the Lidar (LIght Detection And Ranging, works similar to radar) helicopter while it is being refuelled.

I spent the summer working in North British-Columbia for Cusac Gold Mines Ltd as a junior geologist. I got the opportunity by attending the PDAC reception in March of 2006.

Cusac already has a working mine but were conducting exploration to find further gold anomalies on a 4.5km 2 grid just north of the camp area. This grid was divided into roughly thirty-five 2km long grid lines which were to be hiked and soil-sampled for geochemical analysis. It was really thick bush with all sorts of terrain and plenty of lakes and bogs to either hike around (or go straight through in some cases). My team and another collected roughly three-thousand two-hundred soil sample in a month!

The next phase was doing Magnetic and VLF surveys of the same area which meant strapping on a big piece of equipment as well as carrying an eight-foot pole, then hiking through the bush.

After all the surveying was done, I got to fly for a day with a helicopter crew doing a LIDAR survey of the property which was definitely the highlight of my summer. After being up really high, I got to go really deep when I was taken underground where I was taught how to map outcrops underground. However, I did get to lay explosives and blow stuff up too!

Finally when all our data was compiled and results had come in, we got to trench and map locations that had shown gold anomalies.

Overall, thanks to a pair of amazing supervisors and other people at the camp, I got to see all sides of the mining industry from the exploration part to geophysics and mapping. I made more money than I have ever made in my life and all expenses paid to boot. The learning experience was worth most of all though, and it truly confirmed Geology as the field for me.