Geological Science and Engineering

Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering
Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering

Peir K. Pufahl, PhD

Professor of Sedimentology and Geochemistry

Co-Director: Queen's Facility for Isotope Research

Editor-in-Chief: Sedimentology

Scientific Advisor: Geological Survey of Brazil's (CPRM) Project Phosphate


Office Miller Hall 408
Phone 613-533-3262




Peir Pufahl (Ph.D.) leads an international, multidisciplinary research program focused on the sedimentology, geochemistry, and economic geology of bioelemental sediments. Bioelemental sediments include phosphorite, iron formation, ironstone, and chert, which are precipitates of the nutrient elements P, Fe, and Si. These rocks are economically important because they are used to manufacture fertilizer and steel. Black shales associated with many phosphorites are also important hydrocarbon source rocks. Because bioelemental sediments actively participate in Earth system evolution they record the interplay between climate, meteorology, and ocean circulation on nutrient cycling and environmental change.


Supervising Information

My students and postdoctoral fellows use a process oriented, interdisciplinary approach to solve sedimentologic problems that result in manuscripts published in top-tier, peer-reviewed journals. International and Canadian-based thesis research interprets the sedimentology, stratigraphy, and geochemistry of bioelemental sediments to understand Earth history and create state-of-the-art exploration models for industry.

Interested?  Please contact me!


Industry Courses

  • Economic significance and petrogenesis of phosphorite
  • Iron ore genesis, exploration, and production



  • GEOL 200 Oceanography
  • GEOL 840 Graduate Seminar Advanced Sequence Stratigraphy



  • Fellow Society of Economic Geologists
  • Discovery Award Professional of Distinction Finalist
  • Atlantic Geoscience Society Distinguished Lecturer
  • PetroCanada Young Innovator Award
  • Acadia Student Union Teaching Award



Refereed Book Chapters

Hiatt, E.E. and Pufahl, P.K., 2014. Chapter 5: Cathodoluminescence petrography of carbonate rocks: a review of applications for understanding diagenesis, reservoir quality, and pore system evolution, In Coulsen, I.M. (ed.), Cathodoluminescence and its Application to Geoscience, Mineralogical Association of Canada, 75-96. Invited

Pufahl, P.K., 2010.  Bioelemental Sediments, In James, N.P. and Dalrymple, R.W. (eds.), Facies Models, 4th Edition, Geological Association of Canada, 477-504.  Invited

James, N.P., Kendall, A.C, and Pufahl, P.K., 2010.  Introduction to Bioelemental Sediments. In James, N.P. and Dalrymple, R.W. (eds.), Facies Models, 4th Edition, Geological Association of Canada, 323-340.

Selected Refereed Journal Papers

Pufahl, P.K., Squires, A.D., Murphy, J.B., Quesada, C., Lokier, SW., Álvaro. J.J., and Hatch, J., submitted. Ordovician ironstone of the Iberian margin: coastal upwelling, ocean anoxia and Paleozoic biodiversity. The Depositional Record.

Chipman, M.D., Grey, M., and Pufahl, P.K., in press. Coprolites from a brackish ecosystem in the Pennsylvanian Joggins Formation, Nova Scotia, Canada and their palaeoecological implications. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

Hiatt, E.E., Pufahl, P.K., and Silva, L.G., 2020. Iron and phosphorus biochemical systems and the Cryogenian-Ediacaran transition, Jacadigo Basin: implications for the Neoproterozoic Oxygenation Event. Precambrian Research, 337.

Zhang, Y., Pufahl, P.K., Du, Y., Chen, G., Liu, J., Chen, J., and Wang, Z., 2019. Economic phosphorite from the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation, South China, and the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian Phosphogenic Event. Sedimentary Geology, 388, 1-19.

Todd, S.E., Pufahl, P.K., Murphy, J.B., and Taylor, K.B., 2019. Sedimentology and oceanography of Early Ordovician ironstone, Bell Island Newfoundland: ferruginous seawater and upwelling in the Rheic Ocean. Sedimentary Geology, 379, 1-15.

Sampaio, G.M.S., Pufahl, P.K., Raye, U., Kyser, T.K., Abreu, A.T., Alkmim, A.R., and Nalani Jr, H.A., 2018. Influence of weathering and hydrothermal alteration on the REE and δ56Fe composition of iron formation, Cauê Formation, Iron Quadrangle, Brazil. Chemical Geology, 497, 27-40.

MacNeil, L.A., Pufahl, P.K., and James, N.P., 2018. Deposition of a saline giant in the Mississippian Windsor Group, Nova Scotia, and the nascent Late Paleozoic Ice Age. Sedimentary Geology, 363, 118-135.

Caird, R.A., Pufahl, P.K., Hiatt, E.E., Abram, M.B., Rocha, A.J.D., and Kyser, T.K., 2017. Ediacaran stromatolites and intertidal phosphorite of the Salitre Formation, Brazil: phosphogenesis during the Neoproterozoic Oxygenation Event. Sedimentary Geology, 350, 55-71.

Pufahl, P.K. and Groat, L.A., 2017. Sedimentary and igneous phosphate deposits: formation and exploration. Economic Geology, 112, 483-516. Invited review.

Ó Gogáin, A., Falcon-Lang, H.J., Carpenter, D.K., Miller, R., Benton, M.J., Pufahl, P.K., Ruta, M., Davies, T.G., Hinds, S.J., and Stimson, M., 2016. Fish and tetrapod communities across a marine to brackish salinity gradient in the Pennsylvanian (early Moscovian) Minto Formation
of New Brunswick, Canada, and their palaeoecological and palaeogeographic implications. Palaeontology, 59, 689-724.

Tosca, N.J., Guggenheim, S., Pufahl, P.K., 2016.  An authigenic origin for Precambrian greenalite: implications for iron formation and the chemistry of ancient seawater. GSA Bulletin, 128, 511-530.

Drummond, J.B.R., Pufahl, P.K., Porto, C.G., and Carvalho, M., 2015.  Neoproterozoic peritidal phosphorite from the Sete Lagoas Formation (Brazil) and the Precambrian phosphorus cycle. Sedimentology, 62, 1978-2008.

Falcon-Lang, H., Pufahl, P.K., Bashforth, A., Gibling, M., Miller, R. and Minter, N. 2015.  A marine incursion in the Lower Pennsylvanian Tynemouth Creek Foration, Canada: implications for paleogeography, stratigraphy and paleoecology.  Palaios, 30, 779-791.

Raye, U., Pufahl, P.K., Kyser, T.K., Ricard, E., and Hiatt, E.E., 2015.  The role of sedimentology, oceanography, and alteration on the d56Fe value of the Sokoman Iron Formation, Labrador Trough, Canada.  Geochimica et Cosomochimica Acta, 164, 205-220.

Hiatt, E.E., Pufahl, P.K., and Edwards, C.T., 2015.  Sedimentary phosphate and associated fossil bacteria in a Paleoproterozoic tidal flat in the 1.85 Ga Michigamme Formation, Michigan, USA.  Sedimentary Geology, 319, 24-39.

Spooner, I., Pufahl, P.K., Brisco, T., Morrow, J., Nalepa, M., Williams, P., and Stevens, G., 2015.  The North structure: evidence for a possible second impact near the Bloody Creek site, Nova Scotia, Canada.  Atlantic Geology, 51, 44-50.

Pufahl, P.K., Anderson, S.L., and Hiatt, E.E., 2014.  Dynamic sedimentation of Paleoproterozoic continental margin iron formation, Labrador Trough, Canada: paleoenvironments and sequence stratigraphy.  Sedimentary Geology, 309, 48-65.

Pufahl, P.K., Pirajno, F., and Hiatt, E.E., 2013.  Riverine mixing and fluvial iron formation: a new type of Precambrian biochemical sediment. Geology, 41, 1235-1238.

Akin, S.J., Pufahl, P.K., Hiatt, E.E., and Pirajno, F., 2013.  Oxygenation of shallow marine environments and chemical sedimentation in Paleoproterozoic peritidal settings: Frere Formation, Western Australia.  Sedimentology, 60, 1559-1799.

Eriksson, P.G., Banerjee, S., Catuneanu, O., Corcoran, P.L., Eriksson K.A., Hiatt, E.E., Laflamme, M., Lenhardt, N., Long, D.G.F., Miall, A.D., Mints, M.V., Pufahl, P.K., Sarkar, S., Simpson, E.L., Williams, G.E., 2013. Secular changes in sedimentation systems and sequence stratigraphy. Gondwana Research, 24, 468-489. Invited

Grey, M., Finkel, Z.V., Pufahl, P.K., and Reid, L.M., 2012. Evolutionary mode of the ostracod, Velatomorpha altilis, at Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lethaia, 45, 615-623.

Edwards, C.T., Pufahl, P.K., and Hiatt, E.E., 2012.  Paleoenvironmental and taphonomic controls on the occurrence of Paleoproterozoic microbial communities in the 1.88 Ga Ferriman Group, Labrador Trough, Canada.  Precambrian Research, 212-213, 91-106.

Pufahl, P.K. and Hiatt, E.E., 2012.  Oxygenation of the Earth’s atmosphere-ocean system: physical and chemical sedimentologic responses.  Marine and Petroleum Geology, 32, 1-20. Invited

Zentmyer, R.A., Pufahl, P.K., James, N.P., and Hiatt, E.E., 2011.  Dolomitization on an evaporitic Paleoproterozoic ramp: widespread synsedimentary dolomite in the Denault Formation, Labrador Trough, Canada. Submitted to Sedimentary Geology, 238, 16-131.

Grey, M. and Pufahl, P.K., and Aziz, A., 2011.  Using multiple environmental proxies to determine degree of marine influence and paleogeographical position of the Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO World Heritage Site. Palaios, 26, 256-263.

Pufahl, P.K., Hiatt, E.E., and Kyser, T.K., 2011. Does the Paleoproterozoic Animikie Basin record the sulfidic ocean transition? REPLY. Geology Forum, e242-e243.

Pufahl, P.K., Hiatt, E.E., and Kyser, T.K., 2010. Does the Paleoproterozoic Animikie Basin record the sulfidic ocean transition? Geology, 38, 659-662.

Nelson, G.J. and Pufahl, P.K., and Hiatt, E.E. 2010. Paleooceanographic constraints on Precambrian phosphorite accumulation, Baraga Group, Michigan, USA. Sedimentary Geology, 226, 9-21.

Spooner, I.S., Stevens, G., Morrow, J.R., Pufahl, P.K., Grieve, R., Raeside, R.P., Pilon, J., Stanley, C.R. Barr, S.M., and McMullin, D., 2009.  Identification of the Bloody Creek structure, possible bolide impact crater in south-western Nova Scotia, Canada. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 44, 1193-1202.

Pufahl, P.K., Hiatt, E.E., Stanley, C.R., Morrow, J.R., Nelson, G.J., and Edwards, C.T., 2007. Physical and chemical evidence of the 1850 Ma Sudbury impact event in the Baraga Group, Michigan. Geology, 35, 827-830.

Sadaqah, R.M., Abed, A.M., Grimm, K.A., and Pufahl, P.K., 2007.  Oxygen and carbon isotopes in Jordanian phosphorites and associated fossils.  Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 29, 803-812.

Pufahl, P.K., James, N.P., Kyser, T.K., Lukasik, J.J., and Bone, Y., 2006.  Brachiopods in epeiric seas as monitors of secular changes in ocean chemistry: a Miocene example from the Murray Basin, South Australia. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 76, 926-941.

Pufahl, P.K. and James, N.P., 2006. Monospecific Plicoene oyster buildups, Murray Basin, South Australia: brackish water end member of the reef spectrum. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeocology, 233, 11-33.

Fralick, P.W. and Pufahl, P.K., 2006.  Shallow water iron formation-deltaic sequences: microbially mediated deposition of TST’s in the Neoarchean of Superior Province, Canada. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 76, 1057-1066.

Pufahl, P.K., James, N.P., Bone, Y., and Lukasik, J.J., 2004. Pliocene sedimentation in a shallow, cool-water, estuarine gulf, Murray Basin, South Australia. Sedimentology, 51, 997-1027.

Pufahl, P.K. and Fralick, P.W., 2004, Depositional controls on Paleoproterozoic iron formation accumulation, Gogebic Range, Lake Superior Region, USA. Sedimentology, 51, 791-808.

Pufahl, P.K. and Grimm, K.A., 2003. Coated phosphate grains: Proxy for physical, chemical and ecological changes in sea water. Geology, 31, 801-804.

Pufahl, P.K., Grimm, K.A., Abed, A.M., and Sadaqah, R.M.Y., 2003. Upper Cretaceous phosphorites in Jordan: implications for the formation of a south Tethyan phosphorite giant. Sedimentary Geology, 161, 175-205.


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