Q and A with Victoria Stinson, Inaugural Parks Canada Geologist-In-Residence

Pukaskwa National Park: a river flows away from the camera with some boulders on the right side. On either side cliffs go up from the river and there are trees on top of the cliffs. Text on the photo reads: "Geo Q & A: Victoria Stinson"

What is the Geologist-In-Residence Program?

The Geologist-In-Residence Program provides an opportunity for the public to learn about the geological history of the natural landscapes in Canadian National Parks, in this case at Pukaskwa National Park.

Looking over the southern headland trail at Pukaskwa National Park. A pine tree forest surrounds a blue lake with fluffy white clouds in the sky. A small building with a brown roof is on the left shore of the lake.
Pukaskwa National Park southern headland trail. Hans-Jürgen Hübner, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What were you doing at Pukaskwa National Park?

Throughout my stay as Geologist-In-Residence I provided tours along Lake Superior describing the ancient geological processes that created these natural phenomena. Drop-in sessions with the public were also offered where visitors could come by to the campsite to discuss the geological features they encountered during their stay and learn how they were created. Children’s activities in these drop-in sessions involved creating artwork that displayed the geological processes that formed the unique features throughout Pukaskwa National Park. I also created a Rock Collection for the Visitors Centre so that everyone has an opportunity to learn more about the exceptional geology at the park!

A white and black rock with some brush growing on it
Photo by Victoria Stinson

What geological formations did you teach about?

I taught about all of the geological formations at the park but one of the most important contributions was a collaboration with the Interpretation Officer and her team. I identified a carbonate mineral, and other minerals rich in calcium, in a metamorphic rock that provides nutrients to unique arctic plants in the region. The Parks Canada team also put me in touch with a fellow geologist who visited the park earlier that summer that had hypothesized the presence of these minerals! This is an excellent example of the Scientific Method and the importance of collaboration between different types of sciences.

Pukaskwa National Park: a river flows away from the camera with some boulders on the right side. On either side cliffs go up from the river and there are trees on top of the cliffs.
Pukaskwa National Park southern headland trail. Paul Gierszewski, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

What’s a fun story from your time at Pukaskwa?

During the Geologist-In-Residence tour for the public a young boy whispered in my ear that I forgot to explain that sedimentary rocks start as sediments. What a great catch! I had forgotten to explain that important part of the Rock Cycle and it shows how important science communication and education are – even with experts!

A woman is kneeling next to a rock outcrop. She has one hand on the top of her hat and the other is holding a pencil pointing at the rock.

Victoria Stinson is from Fort Frances, Ontario and specializes in ancient tectonic processes on Earth and how they control gold mineralization throughout northern Ontario and globally. Victoria started her geology studies (HBSc. and MSc.) at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and completed them at the University of Saskatchewan (PhD.). She loves teaching and mentoring, especially in the field, and is open to new collaborative opportunities! The honour of being the inaugural Parks Canada Geologist-In-Residence is a highlight in her life and believes that it is a great first step in improving scientific literacy and appreciation for the natural world in Canada.


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