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Geologists ready to rock Sudbury for their annual conference

For the first time since 1999  the Geological Association of Canada is holding its annual meeting in Sudbury 
Laurentian University.

Hundreds of geologists and earth scientists from around the world will take an up-close and in-depth look at Sudbury later this month during the annual meeting of the Geological Association of Canada, Mineralogical Association of Canada, and the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits.

The eight-day event from May 23-31 is to be hosted by Laurentian University’s Harquail School of Earth Sciences with more than 500 delegates from 13 countries around the world.

The theme of the event is “Discovering Ancient to Modern Earth”.

“Laurentian University, and Sudbury, are ideal hosts for this year’s meeting,” said Michael Lesher, chair of the conference’s local organizing committee.

Lesher said having the conference as a face-to-face event is important because there are so many changes to the science, and an annual conference is one of the best ways to stay up to date. 

"Well there is always so much to talk about," said Lesher. 

"Like most sciences that evolve pretty quickly, you saw how even during the pandemic, how things changed almost on a daily basis. There are hundreds or thousands of geological articles coming out every year."

Lesher said the conference will feature presentations by both faculty and students on a wide range of topics, including Sudbury geology and critical minerals, the environmental aspects of mine waste and women in the geosciences. Delegates will also participate in several field trips.

Following the pandemic trend, Lesher said some of the presentations will be online, but he said most of the geologists have signed up for the live presentations. Only a handful, roughly 25 participants, have opted for online presentations.

Lesher said it is expected the conference will be of special benefit to the geoscience students at Laurentian who get to pick and choose from dozens of hot topics. He said the conference is set up so there are nine different workshops happening at any one time throughout the week-long event.

Lesher said the talks will consist of classic geology studies presented by "the old grey-haired wise ones" along with newer cutting-edge topics presented by new graduate students on the front-end of geology research.

Lesher said another obvious reason for the growing excitement of the conference is the location. Unlike other cities where the conference has been held in past years, Sudbury won't be showcased for its grand hotels or big city sights.

"And I think if there's one place in Canada that is just really known for being a geological destination, it's Sudbury because it's one of the world's largest meteorite impact sites. In fact, we have two impact sites here, the other being Lake Wahnapitae. And then of course, we're the largest nickel and copper and platinum-group element-mining cluster, meaning you've got exploration, mining and service industry going on," said Lesher. 

He added that Sudbury is also surrounded by a host of different geological regions such as the limestone around Manitoulin Island, nearby rock features that were once massive mountains and then gold-bearing zones near Timmins and copper and zinc zones near Rouyn-Noranda. 

"It's just a geological Mecca," said Lesher.

More than 550 participants have already signed up for the event.