Geog467 2018 Kayaking Newcastle

Department News

Congratulations Jeff Lewis!

Join us in congratulating faculty member Dr Jeff Lewis, recipient of a 2019 Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching Design and Practice that Enhances Deep Learning! Jeff will receive his award at June 2019 convocation ceremonies.

Jeff Lewis Teaching GEOG212

Jeff Lewis in action

VIU Researchers Aim to Develop Improved Mapping Methods For Canada's North

Professors Brad Maguire (Left) and Jerome Lesemann (Right)

Below are excerpts from the full VIU News article (released January 15, 2019 - 10:30am) which can be found here.

A Vancouver Island University (VIU) research project will provide a unique opportunity to examine the glacial landscape of Canada’s North, leading to new mapping methods that will help people identify sources of sand, gravel or minerals.

VIU Professors Dr Jerome Lesemann (Earth Science Department) and Dr Brad Maguire (Geography Department), with the help of Yiqing Luo, a VIU Master of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Applications student, are being funded by Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN - Earth Sciences Sector) to assist in the development of better remote predictive mapping (RPM) methods aiding exploration. 

Mapping of surficial materials is an integral component of development in northern Canada. “Traditional methods of surficial mapping, employing aerial photographs and field verification, are both time-consuming and expensive,” says Maguire. 

Lesemann and Maguire’s research project aims to develop a methodology for computerized detection of the sediment components of eskers, ridges of gravel and sand which occur in formerly glaciated regions of northern Canada.  

“Eskers are ubiquitous glacial landforms, formed in ice tunnels made by water flowing under the ice sheets. The long-winding ridges of stratified sand and gravel are some of the most abundant and accessible sources of aggregates for infrastructure growth needed for road building in northern regions,” says Lesemann. “And they are prime sampling targets for commodities like diamonds.” 

Using newly available digital terrain models, landforms like eskers can now be identified and mapped in great detail. The team is developing a methodology to automatically detect and map these landforms. The VIU project team proposes to develop an esker element detection methodology based on Deep Machine Learning (a form of Artificial Intelligence) supported by a Convoluted Neural Network (CNN). CNN uses computer algorithms to try and replicate complex cognitive processes of the human brain.                                                                        

“This is a significant Canadian undertaking with many partners, and it’s exciting for us to contribute to our understanding of past ice sheets and to the development of improved mapping methods,” says Lesemann


Annette Lucas, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

O: 250.741.2020 | C: 250.618.7296 | E:

The 13th Annual Urban Issues Film Festival A Great Success!

The 13th Annual Urban Issues Film Festival, on the theme of “Resilience in the Face of Climate Change,” was possibly our most successful to date. There were about 110 people at the beginning, a very festive pizza dinner a couple of hours later, and an inspiring keynote by activist, author, and futurist Guy Dauncey. Both Guy’s talk and the films were well-received, and discussion was spirited. The volunteers from Geography, Community Planning, and other faculties and departments made a great team, meeting weekly during the months leading up to the event to design and plan its every aspect.

Sponsors included the Geography Department, the Geographic Students’ Union, the Planning Institute of BC (North Island chapter), and Master of Community Planning (MCP) Students’ Association. Geography, the GSU, and MCP all contributed financially, as did the Faculty of Social Sciences and VIU’s Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC).

A subsequent showing, during WorldVIU Days, of “Metamorphosis” by Nova Ami and Velcrow Ripper, also attracted a healthy crowd of 60 to 70, and featured a workshop on the film’s themes the next night. The film showing was sponsored by Awareness of Climate Change through Education and Action (ACER) and SAC. All in all it was a great round of events focusing on the clear and present danger posed by climate change and what can be done about it.

Canada’s first national Marine Wildlife Area in the Scott Islands

A blast from a career past surfaced this summer for the Geography Department's newest faculty member, Michele Patterson. And this news is something to celebrate:

Environment and Climate Change Canada has just announced the creation of Canada’s first national Marine Wildlife Area in the Scott Islands off the northwest tip of Vancouver Island. This marine protection area is over 11,000 square km and is focused on seabird protection.

Michele Patterson previously worked as a Director for World Wildlife Fund Canada (2001-2009) and was involved in the early work that led to today’s designation. She reflects on the fact that the process to get this Marine Wildlife Area completed took 17 years! “We have a constant challenge in Canada with getting large marine protected areas completed due to: the diverse visions of stakeholders, the complexity of science and research, and our unwieldy, multi-jurisdictional policy environment. We definitely need to get better at conservation planning in order to protect important natural environments.” Michele teaches about these challenges and others in Geog 356 (Policy, Resources and Sustainability). Geography 356 is offered next in Spring 2019, and there are still some seats available.

Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area