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Earth and Planetary Sciences

Programs | Application Procedures and Deadlines

Earth and Planetary Sciences

Location

  • Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Frank Dawson Adams Building
  • 3450 University Street
  • Montreal QC H3A 0E8
  • Canada
  • Telephone: 514-398-6767
  • Fax: 514-398-4680
  • Email: grad [dot] eps [at] mcgill [dot] ca
  • Website: www.mcgill.ca/eps

About Earth and Planetary Sciences

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences offers both M.Sc. and Ph.D. degree programs. Graduate programs are based on research, although some courses are required to build the backgrounds of students. Research in the Department is wide-ranging: it includes studies of the geochemistry of the mantle; the nature of processes concentrating metals in hydrothermal mineral deposits; experimental studies of the controls of viscosity in magmas and the mechanisms of volcanic eruption; the fixation of mercury in marine sediments; the nature of changes in atmospheric chemistry in the early and late Precambrian; mechanisms of faulting; the evolution of topography during orogenesis; wetland hydrogeology; and planetary-scale ocean biogeochemistry and its relationship to global warming. There is a very substantial interdisciplinary basis to much of the research.

Facilities in the Department include low-temperature and pressure to high-temperature and pressure experimental laboratories, a stable-isotope mass spectrometer, laser-ablation ICP-MS, and electron microprobe, as well as atomic absorption spectrometers. Our students also make substantial use of other facilities at McGill and at nearby Université du Québec à Montréal.

Financial assistance is available in the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and scholarships.

Areas of Research:

Aquatic Geochemistry

Application of chemical thermodynamics, kinetics, and surface chemistry to the characterization of mineral-solution interactions in aquatic environments; carbonate geochemistry; early diagenesis of marine and coastal sediments; trace metal and environmental geochemistry in freshwater and marine systems.

Biomineralization

Investigation of process occurring at the interface between inorganic and organic phases leading to the nucleation and growth of crystals in both natural and synthetic systems; pathogenic mineralization and calcification in mammalian cells and tissues; investigating biomarkers as signatures of ancient biological activity in terrestrial and extraterrestrial materials.

Economic Geology

Studies of the genesis of hydrothermal mineral deposits through a combination of field-based, experimental, and theoretical methods. Research focuses on the understanding of physico-chemical controls of mineralization, through geological mapping of deposits, experimental studies of metal solubility and speciation in hydrothermal systems, simulations of hydrothermal alteration, and theoretical studies designed to estimate conditions of alteration and ore formation. Trace-element chemistry of minerals as quantitative probes of the compositions of ore-forming fluids.

Hydrogeology

Studies of pore-water flow in northern peatlands; heat transport; heat as a tracer of natural systems; groundwater modelling; coupled numerical models of pore water flow and heat transport with freeze/thaw processes; and the impact of melting tropical glaciers on water resources.

Igneous Petrology

Experimental studies of the structure, thermodynamics, and transport properties (diffusion and viscosity) of silicate melts and applications to igneous petrogenesis. The nature of the Earth's upper mantle and the processes within it which give rise to basaltic volcanism on both the Earth and the other terrestrial planets. Applications of laser ablation ICPMS; Petrology, geochemistry, and tectonics of the Appalachian lithosphere.

Mineralogy

Chemistry and crystallography of carbonate minerals. Experimental investigations of the effect of environmental factors (e.g., solution composition and temperature) on the morphology and composition of calcite.

Oceanic Biogeochemistry

Links between the marine ecosystem and climate through observations of the modern ocean, simulations of ocean biogeochemistry with computer models, and sedimentary records of past climate change.

Seismology

Subduction earthquake nucleation and rupture propagation processes. Physical mechanism of aseismic deformation transients, deep non-volcanic tremors, dynamic and static stress triggering of low-frequency earthquakes and transients. Pore-fluid pressure coupling with frictional strength and slip.

Tectonics

The interactions of climate and tectonics, especially in regard to the formation and degradation of orogens. Archean orogenic processes. Fluid flow in faults, granular flow in faults, and catastrophic structural/geochemical events in faults.

Isotopic Geochemistry and Sedimentary Geology

Sedimentology, stratigraphy, and isotope geochemistry as guides to reconstructing ancient environments. Reconstruction of paleoenvironmental change during the Neoproterozoic to early Phanerozoic. Relationships between tectonics (i.e., supercontinental break-up and assembly), seawater chemistry and ocean redox, severe climatic fluctuations (including snowball Earth), and the origin and diversification of animals. Recovery of the geochemical memory of large-scale Earth system processes (e.g., microbial control of the global S cycle; anthropogenic manipulation of atmospheric OH abundances). Investigations of microbial biogeochemistry under an anoxic Archean atmosphere, to constrain mass fluxes in the Phanerozoic geologic sulfur cycle, and to track processes that control the pollution-cleansing oxidants (OH, O3) in the modern atmosphere.

Volcanology

Petrology and geochemistry of intermediate and felsic magmas. Understanding physical processes and forecasting eruptions at active subduction-zone volcanoes. Geochemistry of volcanic gases, their use for eruption prediction, and their impact on the atmosphere.

Master of Science (M.Sc.); Earth and Planetary Sciences (Thesis) (45 credits)
The nature of graduate research in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is highly variable. As a result, students may enter the graduate program with backgrounds in earth sciences, chemistry, or physics, depending on their research interests and the supervisor with whom they wish to work. Students pursuing an M.Sc. are required to take four courses, but their major project is an M.Sc. thesis that typically results in a journal publication. Research for the thesis typically begins in the first year of residence and is completed, together with the written results, in the second year of residence. Students graduating from the program typically proceed to a Ph.D. or work in the mineral exploration or petroleum industries. Excellent students admitted into the M.Sc. program can be “fast-tracked” from the M.Sc. into the Ph.D. program at the end of the first year if suitable progress has been demonstrated. Such students are required to take a minimum of 18 credits of coursework and a comprehensive oral examination in the Ph.D. 2 year.
Master of Science (M.Sc.); Earth and Planetary Sciences (Thesis) — Environment (48 credits)
The graduate option in Environment provides students with an appreciation for the role of science in informed decision-making in the environmental sector, and its influence on political, socio-economic, and ethical judgments. The option also provides a forum whereby graduate students bring their disciplinary perspectives together and enrich each other's learning through structured courses, formal seminars, and informal discussions and networking. Students that have been admitted through their home department or faculty may apply for admission to the option. Option requirements are consistent across academic units. The option is coordinated by the McGill School of Environment (MSE), in partnership with participating academic units.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.); Earth and Planetary Sciences
The nature of graduate research in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is highly variable. As a result, students may enter the graduate program with backgrounds in earth sciences, chemistry, or physics, depending on their research interests and the supervisor with whom they wish to work. Ph.D. students typically enter with an M.Sc., in which case they are required by our regulations to take only two courses, although a supervisor may require more, depending on the suitability of the student’s background. Aside from courses, the first year is occupied by early work on the thesis project that constitutes the bulk of the Ph.D., with preparation for an oral examination on their research proposal at the end of the first year. Conduct of the research, and preparation of the results, for thesis and publication, typically takes three additional years. Students entering the Ph.D. program without an M.Sc. are required to take a full year of courses before embarking on the processes described above. Students graduating from our Ph.D. program pursue careers in universities and government-funded research institutes, and in the mineral-exploration and petroleum industries.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.); Earth and Planetary Sciences — Environment
The graduate option in Environment provides students with an appreciation for the role of science in informed decision-making in the environmental sector, and its influence on political, socio-economic, and ethical judgments. The option also provides a forum whereby graduate students bring their disciplinary perspectives together and enrich each other's learning through structured courses, formal seminars, and informal discussions and networking. Students that have been admitted through their home department or faculty may apply for admission to the option. Option requirements are consistent across academic units. The option is coordinated by the McGill School of Environment (MSE), in partnership with participating academic units.
Taken from Programs, Courses and University Regulations 2014-2015 (last updated Jul. 22, 2014).

Earth and Planetary Sciences Admission Requirements and Application Procedures

Admission Requirements

Applicants should have an academic background equivalent to that of a McGill graduate in the Honours or Majors program in geology, geophysics, chemistry, or physics (minimum CGPA of 3.0 out of 4.0). The Admissions Committee may modify the requirements in keeping with the field of graduate study proposed. In some cases, a Qualifying year may be required.

Application Procedures

Applicants who want to be considered for entrance awards, or who require financial assistance, should apply before the application deadlines. There are no special forms required to apply for financial aid from the Department, as all applicants will be considered for the awards for which they are eligible.

Students should first contact potential supervisors within the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (www.mcgill.ca/eps/people/faculty) and assess their interest in accepting new students before starting the formal application procedure. General inquiries concerning the Department should be addressed to Graduate Admissions, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at grad [dot] eps [at] mcgill [dot] ca. Candidates should indicate their field(s) of interest when making formal application for admission.

McGill’s online application form for graduate program candidates is available at www.mcgill.ca/gradapplicants/apply.

See Application Procedures for detailed application procedures.

Application Deadlines

The application deadlines listed here are set by the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and may be revised at any time. Applicants must verify all deadlines and documentation requirements well in advance on the appropriate McGill departmental website; please consult the list at www.mcgill.ca/gps/contact/graduate-program.

Canadian International Special/Exchange/Visiting
Fall: Feb. 1 Fall: Feb. 1 Fall: Feb. 1
Winter: Sept. 15 Winter: Sept. 15 Winter: Sept. 15
Summer: N/A Summer: N/A Summer: N/A

Admission to graduate studies is competitive; accordingly, late and/or incomplete applications are considered only as time and space permit.

Taken from Programs, Courses and University Regulations 2014-2015 (last updated Jul. 22, 2014).

 

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