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Wilfrid Laurier University Office of Research Services
December 6, 2016
Canadian Excellence


Matt Elmes

MSc Candidate

Geography and Environmental Studies, WLU

Paleohydrological reconstruction of Athabasca River discharge from analysis of lake sediment cores

Perceived negative effects of oil sands development on downstream ecosystems is a major environmental issue in Canada.  In the Peace-Athabasca Delta, controversy centres on the relative contributions of industrial versus natural sources of oil-sands-derived contaminants.  Current monitoring programs are not designed to identify long-term trends in contaminant accumulation but these are needed to address this controversy.  My research is aimed at reconstructing Athabasca River discharge from analyses of lake sediment cores collected from flood-susceptible basins upstream of the delta.  These records will provide the necessary paleohydrological context to interpret patterns and trends in subsequent stratigraphic contaminant analyses.  Findings will determine if industrial development is contributing contaminants to the delta.