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Svieda Ma talks about second year

A day in the life

Svieda Ma talks about second year

earth sciences_svieda ma_2_DSC_0386 (2)

People usually learn out of textbooks—but it’s great that we can take field classes and actually see stuff and collect samples. I like seeing the big picture.

A geologic puzzle


“I used to read world atlases when I was a kid,” Svieda laughs, “I was really into geography—and of course I went through a phase of wanting to be an astronaut, so I was always reading about the solar system and the Earth.”

In high school back in Peterborough, Ontario, Svieda got a solid foundation in science—and she took a geology course. “I had an idea I’d end up liking it,” she says.

That interest in geology has only grown. Now in her second year at Dal, she’s majoring in Earth Sciences. Though she knew Dal had a good reputation, Halifax was also a draw: “I just wanted to go somewhere I’d enjoy spending four years of my life,” she says. “I came here for the city, and to be next to the ocean.”

Last summer, in her first field school, Svieda was right next to the ocean for 10 days. “We were near Merigomish, in Antigonish County,” she explains. “We traced an air-photo onto an overlay, which we used to make notes and take measurements as we went along the coast, looking for contacts between different rock formations."

"Basically," she adds, "we created geological maps from observation, extrapolating into areas we couldn’t observe to piece together the whole picture.”

“We’d only taken first-year classes,” she says. “It was like a puzzle. But you eventually put it all together, and you can say, ‘hey—that was a good learning experience.’”

“Overall, it was really awesome,” Svieda’s eyes light up. “Not a lot of other programs offer experiences like this.”

Her next field trip will be to Nevada and California in May. “We’ll be taking an innovative approach to geochronology for paleoseismisity, dating desert landscapes affected by faults associated with earthquakes,” she explains. “The innovation will come from using C-14, a short-lived isotope in quartz, in combination with Be-10, a radionuclide, to provide an erosion-corrected age for seismic events.”

In her free time, Svieda likes running, and she’s also involved in a music workshop pilot project called Unplug, for people who are homeless or at-risk. “I teach them how to drum,” she says. “But it’s very casual, just for fun—I’m not a music instructor.”  

But she is definitely a geologist in training.