Research Opportunities for Prospective Students

colin Pia

PhD student Colin Padget and field assistant Pia Blake in the Hyland River area, Selwyn Mountains, Yukon

What can metamorphic petrology tell us about the growth and unroofing of the Cordillera? What are the limitations to interpreting metamorphic rocks using phase diagrams calculated for fixed rock compositions (pseudosections)? What happens when you metamorphose an orebody? Is the equilibrium model for isograd development valid, or are isograds also controlled by kinetic factors? What is the nature of the transition between compressional and extensional tectonics in the Canadian Cordillera? Can we sort out low pressure phase relations in pelites, and better yet, predict them thermodynamically?


If you are interested in these sorts of problems, read on. Our Department has the facilities and expertise for a wide range of petrological and tectonic research, enhanced recently by the newly established lab for in situ Geochronology/Thermochronology. Visit my students and PDFs page to see what my current students are doing, and what past students and PDFs have done. Projects range from field-based to lab-based, and all gradations between. Many involve co-supervision with other members of the Department here at University of Calgary, and with other organizations and institutions, including the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at University of Alberta and the Geological Survey of Canada.   


A good background in some or all of petrography, metamorphic petrology and physical chemistry applied to rocks. For field based research, a good background in structural geology and field work. Above all, must have a real interest in petrology and geology, and a desire to pose questions and solve problems independently. Candidates must also have a valid driver's licence.

In addition to producing a thesis, students will be expected to present their work orally/in poster form at relevant workshops and meetings during their program, and submit one (MSc) to three (PhD) manuscripts for publication in a peer-reviewed journal prior to graduation. Students may also be asked to contribute to applications for external research and travel support.

If sending an enquiry, please attach a CV, summary of your academic record (courses and grades), and list of three references plus their email addresses. Any examples of work you have done (e.g., reports, papers, abstracts of theses/talks/papers) would be welcome. Please also provide a brief explanation of your background and what kind of research you wish to pursue. 


I have a range of possible research projects for PhD, MSc and BSc students, some examples of which are listed below. These are divided into three main groupings: Metamorphic petrologyMetamorphism and tectonics; and Metamorphism and ore deposits. The projects range from field-based to lab-based, and gradations between. I am willing to supervise research problems that students bring to me, provided they have a petrological component.

Metamorphic Petrology

Metamorphic reaction processes

  • Equilibrium vs. kinetic controls of metamorphic processes in regional and contact settings: assessing the role and consequences of overstepping 
  • Genesis and significance of 'giant diopside' calcsilicates, Kootenay Lake, SE BC
  • Conditions, timing and significance of retrograde hydration of cordierite and other metamorphic porphyroblasts in metapelites (various locations)
  • Genesis of complex oscillatory zoning in garnets from metamorphosed Pb-Zn ore bodies, SE BC: fluid vs. tectonic effects?

Contact metamorphism and relation to tectonics

  • The emplacement level and tilting of middle Jurassic (Toby, Glacier Creek) through late Cretaceous (Fry Creek, White Creek) intrusions in the Purcell anticlinorium and central Kootenay Arc, SE BC from study of their contact aureoles

Petrology of granulites and migmatites

  • Phase diagram modelling and multiequilibrium/multispecies thermobarometry applied to granulites that have experienced melt loss and resetting on cooling
  • Partial melt leucosomes in granulites as sources and/or sinks for fluids.

Metamorphism and Tectonics

Regional metamorphism and tectonics in the southern Canadian Cordillera

  • Regional study of the emplacement level and age of middle Jurassic through late Cretaceous intrusions in the Purcell anticlinorium and Kootenay Arc, SE BC: depth-time "pins" in the evolution of the Cordillera 
  • Metamorphic contrast and timing across the Slocan Lake Fault, SE BC: separating the effects of late exhumation related to Eocene extension from high temperature exhumation related to Cretaceous-Paleocene compression 
  • Anomalous metamorphic domains in the Canadian Rockies, AB and BC: thermal vs. fault-related boundaries  
  • Relation between the Valhalla metamorphic culmination and the Kootenay Lake metamorphic high, and their bounding Eocene normal faults (related to no. 2 above)
  • Barrovian metamorphism between Revelstoke and Galena Bay (central Omineca belt), British Columbia

Metamorphism and Ore Deposits

  • Metamorphism of alteration zones surrounding ore bodies in SE British Columbia: implications for exploration and tectonics
  • Metamorphic P-T-fluid conditions in relation to gold genesis, Rossland, BC
  • Genesis of wollastonite skarn near Rossland, BC - fluid infiltration in low grade grade regional metamorphic rocks?