Photo: Ian Jackson for the University of Alberta
With two of three Canadian mines in their final phases of production, the time is now to source new exploration sites to ensure Canada remains at the forefront of the diamond industry.
Situated in the “Gateway to Canada’s North,” with arguably the world’s largest assembly of highly specialized diamond research equipment, the University of Alberta—long known for its strength in diamond-related research—is the ideal leader for the new diamond exploration program.
“We are uniquely positioned to provide very broad-ranging, highly specialized training,” says Pearson. “We have a large group of specialized research staff focused on diamond exploration who are very complementary to each other. We have also partnered with researchers at UBC, meaning we have a team that covers all areas of diamond research.”
Eight U of A faculty members, plus two from UBC, round out the research areas of kimberlite volcanology, geochronology, geophysics modelling, remote sensing, and experimental mineralogy and petrology.
Launching in September 2016, DERTS will annually host 15 fully-funded students to engage in research related to diamonds and diamond exploration. Pearson says he and his colleagues are recruiting students, from across Canada and around the world, who are not only academically strong, but are also innately curious about diamonds and the world beneath our feet—a passion he shares.
“There’s a specialness attributed to diamonds. For me, beyond the scientific interest and physical attraction, the biggest part of the appeal of diamonds is the unique time capsule they offer. Diamonds have been forming throughout Earth’s history, and they give us this unique window to the deep Earth that’s available in no other way.”
Pearson hopes that, in addition to strengthening Canada’s industrial longevity, this new graduate program ensures that people everywhere continue to have access to these enduring symbols.
A version of this article first appeared on the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Science website.