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Beautiful but dangerous: Scenic spots and hazards at the Scarborough Bluffs

You have likely seen images on social media overlooking Lake Ontario from the top of the Scarborough Bluffs. In some cases, foolhardy photographers venture out on the precipice of the bluffs to catch their own iconic photo of the lake and beaches below. The popularity of the site and weakness of the bluff’s edge has led to the construction of fences and signage indicating the hazard that lies beyond. Read More

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The Planet Earth Lab is driven by a fundamental curiosity to understand our planet earth. The lab’s research is focused, but not limited to, pursuing the study of glacial sedimentology, the study of the geologic record left behind by past cold climates and ice ages, and geospatial analysis. The lab is headed by Prof. Nick Eyles, a Professor of Geology at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) with more than 30 years of experience conducting field work internationally to understand present and past glacial activity. Current research is looking to improve our understanding of glacial landforms and their process of formation by utilizing cutting-edge technologies such as drones and machine learning. The lab is also driven to leverage new approaches to learning in geosciences such as interactive modules and virtual field trips. This is a revolutionary new step in “bringing the field into the classroom”.


Nick Eyles

Nick Eyles has been a Professor of Geology at UTSC since 1982 after having graduated from the universities of Leicester, Memorial (Nfld) and East Anglia, and lectured at Newcastle University. He is interested in the geologic record of cold climates and ice ages throughout Earth history and how that reflects the broader plate tectonic setting in which such deposits occur. He has worked on all continents; his most recent investigations were in Congo. He has spent many years completing research projects at modern ice sheets and glaciers and has worked with the International Ocean Drilling program in Antarctica. He has written or edited specialist geology books and those for the public, many of which have won awards. He hosted a major documentary series (Geologic Journey for CBC) and others which have been nominated for Gemini awards. He is the recipient of the Ward Neale Medal from the Geological Association of Canada and the McNeill Medal from the Royal Society of Canada, as well as from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and Geoscience Information Society for his public outreach.

PhD Students and Affiliates

Shane Sookhan

Shane is a geospatial data analyst and glacial geomorphologist with an interest in developing technologies to help better understand our changing environment and model the past and future of continental ice sheets. He completed his undergraduate and Masters degree at the University of Toronto Scarborough and is currently working on his PhD where he is developing geospatial and machine learning-based methodologies to map and analyse subglacial landforms from high-resolution LiDAR-derived elevation datasets to better understand glacial dynamics. He is also a software and eLearning developer and is a co-founder of Let’s Rock Ontario and Planet Earth Online.

Kirsten Kennedy

Kirsten is a geologist with an interest in Earth’s paleoenvironments though deep time. She started studying Earth Science during her BSc at the University of Victoria. She did a Masters degree at Dalhousie University where she investigated how very early plants came to colonize different parts of the landscape. Afterwards, she came to the University of Toronto where she worked on a PhD studying how to recognize very ancient glacial deposits in the sedimentary record. Since graduating, she has been involved with a number of ‘online learning’ initiatives, which improves the accessibility of geology and brings the geological heritage of Ontario to a wider audience.

Andrew Zajch

Andrew is an applied climatologist with an interest in the interactions between climate and tourism resources. He received a Doctorate in Environmental Sciences from the University of Toronto Scarborough studying the intrinsic connections of shallow geothermal systems, known as earth-air heat exchangers, and their surrounding climates. Currently, he is assisting the lab with science outreach initiatives including the lab blog.


Niko Putkinen

Dr. Niko Putkinen is a Senior Scientist at the Geological Survey of Finland where he manages Scandinavia’s largest groundwater exploration project in Southern Ostrobothnia, Finland. He graduated from University of Oulu, spending a Post Doc year at the Planet Earth Lab in UTSC on ice streaming over soft and hard beds of the Laurentide ice sheet and modern environments at Saskatchewan Glacier. His current interests are linking different glaciated terrains to regional scale 3D mapping and aquifer systems, and urban geology. He is cross-appointed as a Lecturer at the University of Helsinki.

Masters and Undergrad Students

Syed Bukhari

Syed Bukhari is a Masters student at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He completed his undergraduate degree in Environmental Geoscience and submitted a thesis on subglacial debris transport. His current work continues to strive towards better understanding glacial dynamics. His recent publication has established the importance of subglacial erosion on hard beds in southern Ontario. He is interested in educational outreach and communicating science through everyday stories -but most interested in exploring Ontario on his Suzuki motorcycle.

Mehmet Duyan

Mehmet Duyan graduated from Hacettepe University in Turkey and is interested in glacial placer deposits. He is completing an M.A.Sc. on the sedimentology, geochemistry and origin of the Port au Port Bay chromite placer deposit in western Newfoundland. Detrital chromite has been concentrated in nearshore sediments by coastal erosion of a chromite-bearing glacial outwash fan deposited at the mouth of the Fox Island River basin at the end of the last ice age. The original source of chromite is the Lewis Hills ophiolite complex consisting of ultrabasic upper mantle rocks emplaced against North America during the Iapetus Ocean closure. It is a story repeated in many areas of Canada and Mehmet’s work is throwing new light on the origins of other glacial placers notably the gold placer deposits of British Columbia.

Alan Yu

Alan is a fourth-year specialist candidate in Environmental Physics at the University of Toronto Scarborough. His current research involves determining the movement of ancient ice sheets based on their remnant landforms. He is open to studying a broad range of planetary physics, from mantle convection to glacial dynamics. Outside of work, he enjoys working on his car and plans to bring it on a track soon.

Patrick Peng

Patrick is a 4th year geoscience undergraduate. He is currently working on the project “The Glacial Map of Canada” . This has mainly consisted of mapping out different drumlin continuums to interpret how ice flows through a specific region. Besides that, he is also interested in learning how to apply his geoscience knowledge into tackling real world problems, such as energy security, water supply, wastewater systems, and population forecasting.


Sookhan, S., Eyles, N., Bukhari, S., & Paulen, R. C. (2021c). LiDAR-based quantitative assessment of drumlin to mega-scale glacial lineation continuums and flow of the paleo Seneca-Cayuga paleo-ice stream. Quaternary Science Reviews, 263, 107003–. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2021.107003

Mulligan, R. Boyce, J.I. Eyles, C.H., Eyles, N. (2021b). Seismic stratigraphy of a late Wisconsinan tunnel valley, Kempenfelt Bay, Lake Simcoe, Canada. Journal of Quaternary Science (In Press)

Bukhari, S., Eyles, N., Sookhan, S., Mulligan, R., Paulen, R., Krabbendam, M., & Putkinen, N. (2021a). Regional subglacial quarrying and abrasion below hard‐bedded palaeo‐ice streams crossing the Shield–Palaeozoic boundary of central Canada: the importance of substrate control. Boreas, 50(3), 781–805. https://doi.org/10.1111/bor.12522

Kennedy, K., Eyles, N., & McArthur, A. (2021). Syn‐rift mass flow generated “tectonofacies” and “tectonosequences” of the Kingston Peak Formation, Death Valley, California, and their bearing on supposed Neoproterozoic panglacial climates. Sedimentology, 68(1), 352–381. https://doi.org/10.1111/sed.12781


Le Heron, D.P., Eyles, N. and Busfield, M. (2020a) The Laurentian Neoproterozoic Glacial Interval: reappraising the extent and timing of glaciation. Austrian Journal of Earth Sciences 113, 59-70.

Putkinen, N., Eyles, N., Daxberger, H., Sarala, H., Pihlaja, J. and A. Murray (2020) Early Saalian deposits preserved under Late Weichselian till in the core region of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet at Äältövittikot in Finnish Lapland. Journal of Quaternary Science 2, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.qsa.2020.100005


Kennedy, K. and Eyles, N. (2019b). Subaqueous debrites ('mixtites') of the Grand Conglomérat Formation, Democratic Republic of Congo: a model for anomalously thick Neoproterozoic 'glacial' diamictites. Journal of Sedimentary Research 89, 1-21.

Sookhan, S., Eyles, N., Arbelaez-Moreno, L., (2019a). Converging ice streams: a new paradigm for reconstructions of the Laurentide Ice sheet in southern Ontario and deposition of the Oak Ridges Moraine. Reply to comments. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 56, 889-893.

Kennedy, K. and Eyles, N, and Broughton, D. (2019) Basinal setting and origin of thick (1.8 km) mass-flow dominated Grand Conglomerat diamictites, Kamoa, Democratic Republic of Congo: resolving climate and tectonic controls during Neoproterozoic glaciations. Sedimentology 66, 556-589.


Sookhan, S., Eyles, N. and Putkinen, N. (2018). LiDAR-based mapping of paleo-ice streams in the eastern Great Lakes sector of the Laurentide Ice Sheet and a model for the evolution of drumlins and MSGLs. Journal of the Geological Society of Sweden 140, 202-228.

Sookhan, S., Eyles, N. and Arbelaez-Moreno, L. (2018). Converging ice streams: a new paradigm for understanding the Laurentide Ice sheet in southern Ontario and deposition of the Oak Ridges Moraine. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 55, 373-396.

Eyles, N, Arbelaez-Moreno, L., and Sookhan, S. (2018) Ice streams within the Late Wisconsin Cordilleran Ice Sheet of western North America. Quaternary Science Reviews 179, 87-122.


Putkinen, N., Eyles, N., S. Putkinen, A.E.K. Ojala J.-P. Palmu, P. Sarala, T. Väänänen, J. Räisänen, J. Saarelainen, N. Ahtonen, H. Rönty, A. Kiiskinen T. Rauhaniemi and T. Tervo. (2017) High-resolution LiDAR mapping of glacial landforms and ice streams in Finland. Bulletin of the Geological Society of Finland 89, 64-81.

Krabbendam, M., Bradwell, T., Everest, J. and Eyles, N. (2017). Joint-bounded crescentic scars formed by subglacial clast-bed contact forces: implications for bedrock failure beneath glaciers. Geomorphology 290, 114-127.


Delpomdor, F., Eyles, N., Tack, L. and Préat, A. (2016e) West-Congolian pre- and post-Marinoan carbonates in the Democratic Republic of Congo: glacially- or tectonically-influenced deep-water sediments? Paleogeography, Paleoecology and Paleoclimatology 457, 144-157.

Riley, S., Binder, R., Tucker, T.R., Menzies, J., Eyles, N., Janssen, J., Muir, A.M., Bronte, C.R., Wattrus, N.J. and Krueger, C.C. (2016d). Islands in the ice stream: were spawning habitats for native salmonids in the Great Lakes created by paleo-ice streams? Fish and Fisheries 18,347-359.

Krabbendam, M., Eyles, N., Putkinen, N. Bradwell, T., Arbelaez-Moreno, L. (2016c). Streamlined 'hard beds' cut by paleo-ice streams: a preliminary review. Sedimentary Geology 338, 24-50.

Eyles, N., Putkinen, N, Sookhan, S., Arbelaez-Moreno, L. (2016b) Erosional origin of drumlins and megaridges. Sedimentary Geology 338, 2-23.

Sookhan, S., Eyles, N., Putkinen, N. (2016a) LiDAR-based volume assessment of the origin of the Wadena Drumlin Field, Minnesota, USA. Sedimentary Geology 338, 72-83.

Eyles, N. and Doughty, M. (2016). Glacially-streamlined hard and soft beds of the paleo-Ontario Ice Stream in central Canada. Sedimentary Geology 338, 51-71.


Eyles, N and Daurio, L. (2015e) Little Ice Age debris lobes inside Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley, California: analog for Mars craters? Geomorphology 245, 231-242.

Yu, P., Eyles, N., Sookhan, S. (2015d) Automated drumlin volume estimation using LiDAR curvature imagery: a test from the Wadena Drumlin Field, Minnesota. Geomorphology 246, 589-601.

Wallace, K. and Eyles, N. (2015c) Seismites in Paleozoic carbonates and siliciclastics; Southern Ontario. Sedimentary Geology 316, 80-95.

Eyles, N., Zajch, A. and Doughty, M. (2015b) High-resolution seismic sub-bottom reflection record of low Hypsithermal levels in Ontario lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research 41, 41-52.

Battram, N.M., Lau, P.S., Simpson, M.J. and Eyles, N. (2015a). Organic matter biomarker analysis as a potential chemostratigraphic tool for Late Pleistocene tills from the Hudson Bay Lowlands, Canada. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 418, 377-385.

Eyles, N., Boyce, J.I and Putkinen, N. (2015) Neoglacial (< 3000 years) till and flutes at Saskatchewan Glacier, Canadian Rocky Mountains, formed by subglacial deformation of a soft bed. Sedimentology 62, 182-203.


Doughty, M., Eyles, N., Wallace, K.W., Boyce, J.I., and Eyles, C. (2014) Lake sediments as natural seismographs: earthquake-related deformations (seismites) in central Canadian (Ontario and Quebec) lakes produced by reactivation of Precambrian structures. Sedimentary Geology 313, 45-67.

Eyles, N. and Putkinen, N. (2014) Glacially-megalineated limestone terrain of Anticosti Island, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada: onset zone of the Laurentian Channel ice stream. Quaternary Science Reviews 88, 125-134.


Doughty, M., Eyles, N. and Eyles, C.H. (2013) Seismic reflection profiling of neotectonic faults in glacial and postglacial sediment in Lake Timiskaming, Timiskaming Graben, Ontario/Quebec, Canada. Sedimentology 60, 683-706

Eyles, N. Meriano, M. and P. Chow-Fraser,P. (2013) Impacts of European settlement (1840-present) in a Great Lake watershed and lagoon: Frenchman’s Bay, Lake Ontario, Canada. Environmental Earth Sciences 68, 2211-2228 DOI 10.1007/s12665-012-1904-8


Eyles, N. and Meulendyk, T. (2012c) Ground penetrating radar stratigraphy and depositional model for evolving Late Holocene dunes on the Lake Huron coast, Ontario. Journal of Great Lakes Research 38, 708-719

Eyles, N. (2012b) Glacially-cut rock drumlins and megagrooves of the Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada cut below the Saginaw-Huron Ice Stream. Quaternary Science Reviews 55, 34-49.

Carto, S. and Eyles, N. (2012a) Sedimentology of the Neoproterozoic (c. 580 Ma) Squantum ‘Tillite’, Boston Basin USA: mass flow deposition in a non-glacial deep water arc basin. Sedimentary Geology 269, 1-14.

Carto, S. and Eyles, N. (2012) Modern volcano-sedimentary analogs for Neoproterozoic volcanic back arc basins during the Gaskiers glaciation (c. 580 Ma). Sedimentary Geology 261, 1-14.


Eyles, N., Eyles, C.H. and Menzies, J. (2011a) End moraine construction by submarginal incremental till deposition below the Laurentide Ice Sheet, Southern Ontario, Canada. Boreas 40, 92-104.

Meriano, M., Howard, K. and Eyles, N. (2011) The role of midsummer urban aquifer recharge in storm flow generation using isotopic and chemical hydrograph separation techniques. Journal of Hydrology 396, 82-93


Eyles, N. and Doughty, M. (2010c) Ongoing neotectonic activity in the Timiskaming-Kipawa area of Ontario and Quebec. Geoscience Canada 37, 97-104.

Doughty, M., Eyles, N. and Daurio, L. (2010b) Earthquake-triggered slumps (1935 Timiskaming M6.2) in Lake Kipawa, Western Quebec Seismic Zone, Canada. Sedimentary Geology 228, 113-118.

Xu, Y.P., Simpson. A., Eyles, N., Simpson, M.J. (2010a) Sources and molecular composition of cryoconite organic matter from the Athabasca Glacier, Canadian Rocky Mountains. Organic Geochemistry 41, 177-186.

Eyles, N. and Meriano, M. (2010) Road impacted sediment and water in a Lake Ontario watershed and lagoon, City of Pickering, Ontario, Canada: an example of urban basin analysis. Sedimentary Geology 224, 15-28.


Xu, Y.P., Simpson. A., Eyles, N., Simpson, M.J. (2009c) Biomarker record of organic matter inputs into Northwest Atlantic sediments during Marine Isotope Stages 11 and 12. Applied Geochemistry 24, 1934-1940.

Meriano, M., Eyles, N. and Howard, K.W.F. (2009b) Hydrogeological impacts of road salt from Canada’s busiest highway on a Lake Ontario watershed and lagoon (Frenchman’s Bay), City of Pickering. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 107, 66-81.

Meriano, M. and Eyles, N. (2009a) Quantitative assessment of the hydraulic role of subglaciofluvial interbeds in promoting deposition of deformation till (Northern Till, Ontario). Quaternary Science Reviews 28, 608-620.

James, N.P., Eyles, C.H., Eyles, N., Hiatt, E., and Kyser, T.K. (2009) Oceanographic significance of a cold-water carbonate environment: glaciomarine sediments of the Pleistocene Yakataga Formation, Middleton Island, Alaska. Sedimentology 56, 367-397.


Couch, A. and Eyles, N. (2008c) Sedimentary record of glacial Lake Mackenzie, Northwest Territories, Canada: implications for Arctic freshwater routing. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 268, 26-38.

Eyles, N. and Meulendyk, T. (2008b) Ground penetrating radar study of a Pleistocene ice-scoured glaciolacustrine sequence boundary. Boreas 37, 226-233.

Eyles, N. (2008a) Glacioepochs and the supercontinent cycle after ~3.0 Ga: tectonic boundary conditions for global cooling. Palaeogeography, Palaeoecology, Palaeoclimatology 258, 89-129.


Seilheimer, T.S., Wei, A., Chow-Fraser, P. and Eyles, N. (2007c) Impact of urbanization on the water quality, fish habitat and fish community of a Lake Ontario marsh, Frenchman’s Bay. Urban Ecosystems 10, 299-319.

Eyles, N. and Januszczak, N. (2007b) Syntectonic submarine mass flows of the Neoproterozoic Otavi Group, Namibia: where is the evidence of global glaciation? Basin Research 19, 179-188

Eyles, C.H., Eyles, N. and Grey, K. (2007a) Palaeoclimate implications from deep drilling of Neoproterozoic strata in the Officer Basin and Adelaide Rift Complex of Australia: a marine record of wet-based glaciers. Palaeogeography, Palaeoecology, Palaeoclimatology 248, 291-312

Kerr. M. and Eyles, N. (2007) Origin of drumlins on the floor of Lake Ontario and in Upper New York State. Sedimentary Geology 193, 7-20.


Lazorek, M., Eyles, N., Eyles, C., Doughty, M., L’Heureux, E and Milkereit, B. (2006b) Late Pleistocene seismo-stratigraphy of a meteorite impact basin (Lake Wanapitei: c. 37 Ma), Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Sedimentary Geology 192: 231-242.

Eyles, N., Eyles, C. and Mory, A. (2006a) A 50 million year long record of glacial to postglacial marine environments preserved in a Carboniferous-Lower Permian graben, northern Perth Basin, Western Australia. Journal of Sedimentary Research 76, 618-631.

Eyles, N. (2006) The role of meltwater in glacial processes. Sedimentary Geology 190, 257-268.

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