From left, Grohn, Regan, Chiarenzelli, Gallagher, in their summer lab.

Four Laurentians, Two Countries, One Project

Charlotte Crawford '16

St. Lawrence’s network connections, and the ways they take Laurentians far and wide, have proved instrumental time and again. Last summer, four Laurentians made extraordinary use of that network, crossing not only national boundaries, but those between students, professors and alumni as well.

Chapin Professor of Geology Jeff Chiarenzelli ’81 travelled with two undergraduate geology majors, Lisa Grohn ’17 and Mitch Gallagher ’17, to help Chiarenzelli’s former student Sean Regan ’10 with his doctoral research in the Canadian Arctic. Regan was sampling numerous places along a major boundary in the Canadian Shield called the Snowbird Tectonic Zone. “We’re trying to finally determine at what point in time two tectonic plates merged, hundreds of millions of years ago,” Regan says. The project is funded by a National Science Foundation grant awarded to Regan and his dissertation adviser.

Regan invited Chiarenzelli to take part because Chiarenzelli is one of few geologists in the world with hands-on experience in this challenging and remote location. Chiarenzelli says, “The possibility to take Lisa and Mitch along, and expose them to the north, was a dream come true for me. Both were excellent field collaborators, enduring the isolation and harsh conditions with good humor and enthusiasm.”

Another goal of the project was to research evidence of human habitation in the remote area, which is in Nunavut Territory. This aspect of the venture was partially funded by the Center for International and Intercultural Studies at St. Lawrence. The multiple scientific initiatives took the team from harsh Arctic conditions to boreal forest.

Lisa says, “This trip solidified my passion for geology and gave me countless ideas for where I can go from SLU. Having the guidance and personal attention in the field was invaluable. More important, the chance to explore a part of the Earth that isn’t understood quite yet was a dream come true.”

The project will continue into next summer and offer further opportunities for student involvement. “I was captivated by the landscape,” Lisa says, “and I would go back in a heartbeat.”