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
Email: flongsta@uwo.ca
Lab Website

Research Interests

Stable isotope science across the atmosphere-hydrosphere-biosphere-lithosphere (soil, sediment, rock) 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 isotope systematics of bioapatite, collagen and keratin; Stable isotope ecology; Stable isotope hydrology; Climate change and environmental reconstruction; Stable isotope systematics of hydrous minerals; Triple oxygen-isotope systematics in nitrates, silicates and biogenic phosphates; Stable isotopic analysis of anthropological materials and its applications to environment and climate reconstruction; Clay mineralogy; Rock-water interaction in hydrothermal systems and mineralization; Diagenesis of clastic sedimentary systems.

Selected Publications 

  • Huggett J, Adetunji J, Longstaffe FJ & Wray D (in press) Mineralogical and geochemical characterization of warm water, shallow marine glaucony from the Tertiary of the London Basin. Clay Minerals.
  • Aggarwal P, Romatschke U, Araguas-Araguas L, Belachew D, Longstaffe FJ, Berg P, Schumacher C & Funk A (2016) Water isotopes reveal the proportions of convective and stratiform precipitation. Nature Geoscience 9: 624-630. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2739
  • Ballent A, Corcoran, P, Odile M, Helm PA & Longstaffe FJ (2016) Sources and sinks of microplastics in Canadian Lake Ontario nearshore, tributary and beach sediments. Marine Pollution Bulletin 110: 383-395. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X16304416
  • Colborne SF, Garner SR, Longstaffe FJ & Neff BD (2016) Assortative mating but no evidence of genetic divergence in a species characterized by a trophic polymorphism. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 29: 633-644. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jeb.12812
  • Dolphin AE, Teeter MA, White CD & Longstaffe FJ (2016) Limiting the impact of destructive analytical techniques through sequential microspatial sampling of the enamel from single teeth. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 5: 537-541.
  • Hill C, Corcoran PL, Aranha R & Longstaffe FJ (2016) Microbially induced sedimentary structures in the Paleoproterozoic, upper Huronian Supergroup, Canada. Precambrian Research 281: 155-165. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.precamres.2016.05.010
  • Hladyniuk R & Longstaffe FJ (2016) The oxygen-isotope composition in post-glacial Lake Ontario. Quaternary Science Reviews 134: 39-50. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.01.002
  • Howe TS, Corcoran PL, Longstaffe FJ, Webb EA & Pratt RG (2016) Climatic cycles recorded in glacially influenced rhythmites of the Gowganda Formation, Huronian Supergroup. Precambrian Research 286: 269-280. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.precamres.2016.10.002
  • Huggett J & Longstaffe FJ (2016) A brief account of new petrographic and isotopic insights into the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire Puddingstones of SE England. Proceedings of the Geological Association 127: 327-336. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pgeola.2016.01.003
  • Hundey EJ, Russell SD, Longstaffe FJ & Moser KA (2016) Agriculture causes nitrate fertilization of remote  alpine lakes. Nature Communications 7: 10571. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms10571
  • Matthews C, Longstaffe FJ & Ferguson S (2016) Dentine oxygen isotopes (δ18O) as a proxy for odontocete distributions and movements. Ecology and Evolution 6: 4643-4653. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2238
  • Morris Z, White C, Hodgetts L & Longstaffe FJ (2016) Maize provisioning of Ontario Late Woodland turkeys: Isotopic evidence of seasonal, cultural, spatial and temporal variations. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 10: 596-606. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.06.017
  • Olsen KC, White CD, Longstaffe FJ, Rühli FJ, Warinner C & Salazar-Garcia DS (2016) Isotopic anthropology of rural German medieval diet: intra- and inter-population variability. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences: 1-13. doi 10.1007/s12520-016-0432-y
  • Metcalfe J, Longstaffe FJ, Jass C, Zazula G & Keddie G (2016) Taxonomy, location of origin and health status of proboscideans from Western Canada investigated using stable isotope analysis. Journal of Quaternary Science 31: 126-142. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jqs.2849
  • Schofield DI, Potter J, Barr SM, Horák JM, Millar IL & Longstaffe FJ (2016) Reappraising the Neoproterozoic ‘East Avalonian’ terranes of southern Great Britain. Gondwana Research 35: 257-271. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gr.2015.06.001
  • Szpak P, Chicoine D, Millaire J-F, White CD & Longstaffe FJ (2016) Early Horizon camelid management practices in the Nepeña Valley, north-central coast of Peru. Environmental Archaeology 21: 230-245. http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/1749631415Y.0000000002
  • Szpak P, Millaire JF, White CD, Bourget S & Longstaffe FJ (2016). Life histories of sacrificed camelids from Huancaco (Virú Valley).  Chapter 12: 319-341. In: Ritual violence in the ancient Andes: Reconstructing Sacrifice on the North Coast of Peru. Edited by H.D. Klaus and J.M. Toyne,  University of Texas Press, Austin.
  • White CD & Longstaffe FJ (2016) Stable isotopes and selective forces: examples in biocultural and environmental anthropology. Chapter 12:  241-257. In: New Directions in Biocultural Anthropology. Edited by M.K. Zuckerman and D.L. Martin, Wiley-Blackwell, New York.
  • Zhou S, Polat A, Longstaffe FJ, Yang K, Fryer BJ & Weisener C (2016) Formation of the Neoarchean Bad Vermilion Lake Anorthosite Complex and spatially associated granitic rocks at a convergent plate margin, Superior Province, western Ontario, Canada. Gondwana Research 33: 134-159. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gr.2015.08.014


  • Geology 9956: Advanced Stable Isotope Science I: Low Temperature Systems
  • Earth Sciences 4431 / Geology 9506: Stable Isotope Geochemistry in Earth and Environmental Sciences 

Current Students

  • Stephanie Mabee, PhD Geology Candidate (Co-Supervisor)
  • Alana Crump, MSc Geology Candidate 
  • Nadine Kanik, PhD Geology Candidate 
  • Fereshteh Najafi, PhD Geology Candidate
  • Jamal Nigim, MSc Geology Candidate
  • James Thayer, PhD Geology Candidate 
  • Jacob Walker, PhD Geology Candidate
  • Emma-Dawn Ferguson, MSc Geology Candidate (Co-Supervisor)
  • Jumin Lee, MSc Geology Candidate (Co-Supervisor)
  • Amanda Philavong, MSc Geology Candidate 
  • Matthew Svensson, PhD Geology Candidate (Co-Supervisor)

Future Students 

Available Graduate Research Projects
Student researchers in the Longstaffe group measure oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen 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 tell 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, n-alkanes), biogenic silica (e.g., phytoliths, diatoms), bone, teeth, hair, feathers, antler, tusk, and fur (and their collagen, keratin, bioapatite, amino acids, etc.)
  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 general areas, and often in partnership with my frequent University of Western Ontario collaborators: Keith Hobson (Biology), Jean-Francois Millaire (Anthropology), Lisa Hodgetts (Anthropology), Katrina Moser (Geography), Dani Way (Biology), Liz Webb (Earth Sciences).
  • Climatic and environmental change in the Great Lakes region since ~15,000 BP (isotopic limnology/paleolimnology, isotopic studies of ancient soils/paleosols; compound specific isotopic analysis of organic biomarkers; clumped isotopes of authigenic and biogenic carbonates)
  • Stable isotopic studies of Pleistocene to modern faunal and megafaunal tissues as environmental proxies (bioapatite, collagen, keratin, amino acids)
  • Climatic controls on hydrogen and oxygen isotopic compositions of water vapour, precipitation, surface and soil water, deep and shallow groundwater, and sedimentary pore water in the Great Lakes region
  • Triple oxygen and nitrogen isotopic investigations of atmospheric nitrate deposition in the Great Lakes Basin
  • Controls on the stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic compositions of ancient and modern plant tissues
  • Stable isotope bioarchaeology and zooarchaeology
  • Stable isotope crystal chemistry of clay minerals

All students are required to perform all of their own analyses and participate in the care, maintenance and repair of equipment. This sophisticated technical training, in addition to knowledge gained from their academic subject field, makes them very attractive to employers. Many former students are now managing or working as technologists in major stable isotope facilities throughout the world. This is in addition to those who have gained academic positions with universities or professional positions with governments, surveys and the private sector based upon their academic achievements.

See here for more details.