Department of Earth SciencesWestern Science

Dr. Fred Longstaffe

Laboratory for Stable Isotope Science

Fred Longstaffe Distinguished University Professor & Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Stable Isotope Science
Director, Laboratory for Stable Isotope Science
P.Geol., F.R.S.C.
Ph.D. McMaster University, 1978
Office: BGS 1023
Labs: BGS 0159, WSC 54
Phone: 519-661-2111 x.83177
Fax: 519-661-3198
Lab Website

Research Interests

Stable isotope science across the atmosphere-hydrosphere-biosphere-lithosphere (rock, soil) continuum (earth-systems science); Stable isotope and biomarker proxies for paleoclimate reconstruction in continental and lacustrine systems; Stable isotope systematics of Pleistocene and Holocene ecosystems and associated megafauna; Stable isotopic analysis of anthropological materials and its applications to environment and climate reconstruction; Stable isotope systematics of hydrous minerals; Triple oxygen-isotope systematics; Oil sands; Diagenesis of clastic sedimentary systems; Clay mineralogy; Rock-water interaction in hydrothermal systems and mineralization.

Selected Publications (2011-2013)

Courses Taught (2013-2014)

Geology 9556L: Advanced Stable Isotope Science I: Low Temperature Systems (Summer 2013)
Earth Sciences 4431A/Geology 9506A: Isotope Geochemistry in Earth and Environmental Sciences (Fall 2013)

Students (2013-2014)

Natalie St. Amour, PDF (Earth Sciences)
Past and present isotope hydroclimatology and hydrology, Great Lakes region

Nadia Dildar, PDF (Earth Sciences)
Compound-specific C- and N-isotope tracers in sediments

Corey Maggiano, Banting PDF (Anthropology) (Joint with C. White)
Integrating seasonal reconstructions of biology, behavior, and environment in archaeological and forensic contexts using a novel technique combining bone histology and isotopy.

Joanne Potter, Research Associate (Earth Sciences)
Carbonic gases, mineral-fluid interactions, and their origin and evolution in mineralized and unmineralized Neoproterozoic terranes of North America, Britain and Wales, and Paleozoic sedimentary rocks of SW Ontario

Scott Colborne, PhD candidate (Biology) (Advisor; supervisor, B. Neff)
Isotopic investigation of foraging polymorphisms and assortative mating in sunfish sympatric speciation

Ryan Hladyniuk, PhD candidate (Earth Sciences)
The evolution of Lake Ontario: a paleolimnological study using stable isotopes

Beth Hundey, PhD candidate (Geography) (Advisor; supervisor, K. Moser)
Eutrophication in high alpine lakes of the Uinta Mountains, Utah: nitrate sources and lake response

Diana Moreiras, PhD candidate (Anthropology) (Joint with J-F Millaire)
Beginning September 2013

Zoe Morris, PhD candidate (Anthropology) (Joint with C. White)
Stable isotopic investigation of Late Woodland (AD 1000-1600) SW Ontario deer, dog and wild turkey from Iroquoian and Western Basin sites

Jordan Munizzi, PhD candidate (Anthropology) (Joint with L. Hodgetts)
Beginning September 2013

Karyn Olsen, PhD candidate (Anthropology) (Joint with C. White)
The effects of disease on human bone collagen nitrogen-isotope compositions

Carlie Pennycook, PhD candidate (Anthropology) (Joint with C. White)
Palaeodiet and health in the Pre-Columbian Quito Basin, Ecuador

Sam Russell, PhD candidate (Earth Sciences)
The nitrogen and oxygen isotope ratios of dissolved nitrate in Pinery Provincial Park

Deana Schwarz, PhD candidate (Earth Sciences)
Stable isotope composition of modern pollen and its relationship to environment

Rachel Schwartz-Narbonne, PhD candidate (Earth Sciences)
Reconstructing North American Pleistocene ecosystems by stable isotope analysis

Paul Szpak, PhD candidate (Anthropology) (Joint with C. White)
South American camelids in Prehispanic Peru: Perspectives from stable isotope analysis

Farnoush Tahmasebi, PhD candidate (Earth Sciences)
Stable isotope analysis of soils and plants of mammoth steppe ecosystems

Rohan Aranha, MSc candidate (Earth Sciences) (Joint with P. Corcoran and E. Webb)
Beginning September 2013

Laura Booth, MA candidate (Anthropology) (Joint with C. White)
Stable isotope analysis of faunal remains from Iroquoian archaeological sites

Natasha Bumstead, MSc candidate (Earth Sciences)
The paleolimnology of Lake Simcoe using stable isotopes and other proxies

Alana Crump, MSc candidate (Earth Sciences)
Stable isotopic investigations of organic biomarker variation in the plant-soil-clay system

Alicia Donis, MA candidate (Anthropology) (Joint with C. White)
Tracing the movement of people at Lamanai through time using stable isotopes

Leslie Erdman, MSc candidate (Biology) (Joint with B. Fenton)
Assessing trophic level effects on the stable hydrogen isotope composition of bat fur

Zijun Liu, MSc candidate (Earth Sciences)
Beginning September 2013

Roshni Patel, MSc candidate (Earth Sciences) (Joint with E. Webb)
Beginning September 2013

Tessa Plint, MSc candidate (Earth Sciences)
Beginning September 2013

Mitchell Skuce, MSc candidate (Earth Sciences)
The geochemical characterization of deep groundwaters in southwestern Ontario

Emily Wells, MA candidate (Anthropology) (Joint with C. White)
Stable isotope analysis of a 19thcentury Catholic cemetery population, Ingersoll, ON

Zahra Nurmohamed, BSc candidate (Environmental Science)
Beginning September 2013

Alison Schincariol, BSc candidate (Geology)
Beginning September 2013

Recent Graduates (2010-2013)

Nicolle Bellissimo (2013) MSc
Origins of stable isotopic variations in Late Pleistocene horse enamel and bone from Alberta

Camila Bernards 2013 MSc (Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro – UNIRIO) Paleoecology of the great carnivorans (Carnivora: Mammalia) of the Brazilian Quaternary

Candace Freckelton (2013)
A physical and geochemical characterization of southwestern Ontario’s breathing well region 

Barbara Hewitt (2013) PhD
Foreigners among the dead at Túcume, Peru: assessing residential mobility using isotopic tracers

Lindsey Valliant (2013) MSc
Overwintering diet quality and spring breeding in the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) 

Reba Macdonald (2012) PhD
Late Quaternary histories of Lakes Huron and Michigan: A stable isotope investigation of sediment cores and modern biogenic carbonates

Duane Petts (2012) PhD
Deep crustal evolution of the western Churchill Province, Nunavut, Canada: Isotopic (U-Pb, O), trace element, and micro-structural analysis of zircom from lower crustal xenoliths

Erin Fraser (2011) PhD
Stable isotope analyses of bat fur: applications for investigating North American bat migration

Jessica Metcalfe (2011) PhD
Late Pleistocene climate and proboscidean paleoecology in North America: Insights from stable isotope compositions of skeletal remains.

Emily Webb (2011) PhD
Residential mobility, palaeodiet and stress in Nasca, Peru: biogeochemical and biomolecular analyses of archaeological tissues 

Ayumi Hyodo (2010) PhD
The Holocene paleolimnology of Lake Superior

Available Graduate Research Projects

Researchers in the Longstaffe group measure oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and sulphur isotopic variations to address one or more of the following general questions:

  1. What is the distribution of heavy versus light isotopes of the same element among Earth materials, and what does it tells us about Earth systems?
  2. What is the environmental significance of isotopic signatures recorded by ‘proxy’ materials from lacustrine sediments and terrestrial soils and sediments? ‘Proxies’ include – but are not limited to – ostracodes, clams, gastropods, bulk organic matter, pollen and other palynomorphs, plant macromolecules (e.g., cellulose), biogenic silica (phytoliths, diatoms), bone, teeth, hair, feathers, antler, tusk, and fur.
  3. How do we read and what can we learn from past and present isotopic records of ecological, environmental and climate change? Can we use the light stable isotopes to go “back to the future”?

Research projects are currently available within the following topic areas:

See here for more details.