Samantha Primmer


Office: SN 2005
Telephone: (709) 864-8998
Fax: (709) 864- 3119


Dr. Trevor Bell (Department of Geography)


Dr. Martin Batterson (Geological Survey of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Thesis Title


Research Description

The purpose of this research is to determine how the behaviour of ice streams affect dispersal patterns and ice flow history in Newfoundland and Labrador. It will focus on how glacial dispersal models, drift geochemistry, and ice streaming affect drift prospecting in the province. Drift prospecting is a method of exploration primarily used within the mining sector and is based upon the premise that indicator minerals of economic importance can be traced back to their source bedrock through glacial deposits. This method relies heavily on the reconstruction of ice flow history in a particular region and recently, the focus has been on trying to highlight how ice streams influence the highly dynamic nature of ice sheets.

Although much research has been done on the ice flow history and dispersal of subglacial sediment underlying normal-sheet flow, little is known about the dispersal patterns of sediment beneath ice streams or how ice streams affect the reconstruction of ice flow history. The traditional approaches used in drift prospecting fail to include an interpretation of how ice stream behaviour affects dispersal patterns of subglacial till and ice flow history with respect to economic mineralization.

Ice streams represent a major uncertainty in our understanding of ice sheet dynamics. Any re-assessment of ice dynamics or subglacial till dispersal involving an ice stream must include a re-evaluation of the methodology used in drift prospecting. This study intends to explore various geomorphological, sedimentological, and geochemical characteristics of a palaeo-ice stream in order to re-evaluate traditional approaches to drift prospecting within Newfoundland and Labrador. The research will be guided by the following questions:

  1. With respect to ice stream dispersal, do geochemical signatures of glacial till differ across the footprint margins and is there evidence of subglacial deformation?
  2. Is there a difference in till characteristics between the onset and trunk zone of an ice stream to signify a change in sedimentological processes and ice velocity across the zone transition?
  3. Do geochemical signatures of glacial till beneath an ice stream indicate a linear or exponential decrease of indicator mineral concentrations with respect to transport distance?

Research Interests

  • Glacial Geomorphology
  • Geochemistry
  • Quaternary Environments
  • Drift Prospecting


Department of Geography

230 Elizabeth Ave

St. John's, NL A1B 3X9 CANADA

Tel: (709) 864-2530

Fax: (709) 864-2552