From AGg Wiki
The Applied Geochemistry group (AGg) in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada) employs a wide variety of physical, chemical, isotopic, and modeling techniques to study aspects of the water cycle and to trace the fate of anthropogenic and natural carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur in surface and subsurface environments. Current research centers around the following major themes:
• Oilsands development and environmental monitoring;
• Environmentally sustainable shale gas development in North America;
• Surface water and groundwater quality;
• Nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorous cycling in ecosystems;
• Geological CO2 sequestration;
In 2013, we plan to admit several new graduate students, preferably at the PhD level. The admission process is competitive and only highly qualified, independent, and dedicated students can be admitted into the program. Potential research areas include, but are not limited to the following:
1) Oil Sand Development and Emissions Monitoring in Alberta’s Oil Sand Region
The rapidly expanding industrial activity in Alberta’s oil sands region has resulted in significant nitrogen and sulfur emissions to the atmosphere. Graduate student projects are planned to evaluate whether isotope analyses on nitrogen, sulfur and selected metals can be used to trace the footprint of anthropogenic emissions in the Athabasca oil sands region. In addition, we plan to investigate water mobility and its effect on biodegradation in oil sands plays with potential for graduate student involvement.
2) Environmentally Sustainable Development of Shale Gas in Canada
Throughout the last decade, natural gas extraction from shales has transformed the outlook for energy supplies for industry, electricity generation, building heating and transportation in North America. There are, however, significant concerns that rapid shale gas extraction may have detrimental environmental effects for shallow groundwater, surface water, and potentially the atmosphere. We intend to investigate the extent of contamination of shallow groundwater with gases such as methane and the extent of pollution of surface water and groundwater with brines or flow-back fluids containing fracking chemicals in the vicinity of shale gas wells. The goal is to ensure a sustainable expansion of shale gas activities while minimizing the risk to the environment.
3) Nutrient Cycling in, and Water Quality of Aquatic Ecosystems
This project will use existing methods and develop new techniques to trace the sources of nutrients including ammonium, nitrate and phosphate in water-unsaturated and water-saturated environments. We intend to develop and apply analytical capabilities for measuring oxygen isotope ratios of phosphate, O-17 contents of nitrates, isotopomers of N2O, and multi-isotope compositions of sulfur compounds. These novel analytical approaches will be used to assess the biogeochemical fate of ammonium, nitrate, phosphate and sulfate in aquatic ecosystems using a combination of hydrometric, chemical and isotopic techniques. In addition, graduate student opportunities exist for developing Cl and Br isotope analytical techniques and applying them to tracing brines in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin.
4) Nitrogen cycling in agro-ecosystems
The movement and conversion of anthropogenic nitrogen and phosphorous added to agricultural ecosystems can be traced using isotope techniques. Graduate students will use the isotopic composition of total soil nitrogen, extractable nitrate and extractable ammonium to investigate transport and transformation processes of nitrogen compounds in agro-ecosystem, which have received various amounts of past anthropogenic nitrogen inputs from synthetic fertilizers or manure. In addition, we will determine the oxygen isotope composition of phosphate in fertilizers and waste water effluents to assess the suitability of this tracer technique for identifying sources of phosphate in aquatic ecosystems. The goal is to assess the processes that control nitrate and phosphate leaching into the hydrosphere and the associated transit times.
5) CO2 Sequestration and Verification
Our research group is conducting geochemical monitoring programs for various CO2 injection projects in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Tracing the fate of injected CO2 in the subsurface is based on chemical and isotopic analyses of repeatedly sampled fluids and gases, geochemical modeling using the obtained data, and mineralogical assessments of reservoir rocks and caprocks. Interested graduate students will perform laboratory experiments elucidating geochemical and isotopic patterns during CO2 – water – rock reactions under defined temperature and pressure conditions. Experience with geochemical modeling or with reservoir engineering is an asset.
We also encourage graduate students to propose their own projects, and will evaluate how such project could be integrated into the research program of the Applied Geochemistry group at the University of Calgary.
Applicants should have a GPA higher than 3.3 and should have taken several Geology courses during their undergraduate/graduate degree program. Financial assistantships of a minimum of $20,000 per annum are available via mixed sources (e.g. teaching assistantships, scholarships, project funds etc.) and are awarded on a competitive basis via application to the Department of Geoscience graduate program. Further information on admission criteria and procedures is outlined at:
or can be obtained from Cathy Hubbell (phone 403 220 3254; fax 403 284 0074;
e-mail: email@example.com). The application deadline is February 1, 2013.
More detailed information on our current research programs can be viewed at http://earth.geo.ucalgary.ca. Should you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Bernhard Mayer at firstname.lastname@example.org