Dr. Isabelle McMartin

Research Scientist

Mapping and understanding the distribution, nature and history of Quaternary surface materials and landforms to inform sustainable development of natural resources, climate change studies and long-term evolution of ice sheets.

Current research and/or projects

Current research interests are focused on the reconstruction of the Laurentide Ice Sheet history west of Hudson Bay in Nunavut as part of the Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals Program in Northern Canada (GEM-GeoNorth). Field-based mapping of the Quaternary geology, mapping of landforms and materials using high-resolution DEMs and remote sensing imagery, and the composition, genesis and age of glacial and postglacial sediments are used to characterize and understand glacial landsystems and glacial transport patterns and processes, and document the postglacial marine transgression along the coastal regions of Hudson Bay. 

Research and/or project statements

  • The provision of an updated and standardized surficial materials and glacial features database, including the former marine limit along coastal areas of western Hudson Bay, will inform land-use planning and coastal evolution research for infrastructure development, therfore contributing to Enhance the understanding of rapidly changing landscapes and coasts of Northern Canada.

  • The reconstruction of the paleo-ice flow history and ice-margin retreat patterns in the Churchill-Kivalliq area west of Hudson Bay, a region of well-established resource potential and where major infrastructure projects are planned or ongoing, will provide an advanced framework to improve glacial dispersal models, therefore help Refine geological knowledge regarding the untapped resource potential in Canada’s north.
  • The new understanding of the glacial history in a GEM-GeoNorth priority region can also be used to improve the accuracy of global ice-sheet reconstructions, essential in climate change studies to help predict current and future global climate changes.
  • Dissemination of updated and new, accessible outputs and datasets relevant to Northerners will contribute to increase accessibility and uptake of geoscience by First Nations and Inuit community members.   

Professional activities / interests

Graduate student co-supervision (U of Waterloo, McGill U, U of New Brunswick, UQAM, Laval U)

Invited lecturer for undergraduate and graduate classes (Queen's U, UQAM)

Currently adjunct professor at Laval University

Scientific reviews in specialized journals 

Education and awards

B.Sc. Génie géologique, Université Laval, 1987

M.Sc. Sciences de la Terre, UQAM, 1990

Ph.D. Earth Sciences, Carleton University, 2000

Key publications

McMartin, I., Henderson, P.J., and Nielsen, E. (1999). Impact of a base metal smelter on the geochemistry of soils of the Flin Flon region, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 36: 141-160.

McMartin, I. (2000). Paleogeography of Lake Agassiz and regional post-glacial uplift history of the Flin Flon region, central Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Journal of Paleolimnology 24: 293-315.

McMartin, I. and McClenaghan, M.B. (2001). Till geochemistry and sampling techniques in glaciated shield terrain: a review; in Drift Exploration in Glaciated Terrain, M.B. McClenaghan, P.T., Bobrowsky, G.E.M., Hall, and S.J., Cook (Eds.), Geological Society, London, Special Publications No. 185: 19-43.

McMartin, I., Henderson, P.J., Plouffe, A., and Knight, R.D. (2002). Comparison of Cu-Hg-Ni-Pb concentrations in soils adjacent to anthropogenic point sources: examples from four Canadian sites. Geochemistry: Exploration, Environment, Analysis 2: 57-74.

McMartin, I. and Henderson, P.J. (2004). New evidence from central Nunavut for paleo-ice divide migration.  Géographie physique et Quaternaire, Vic Prest Special Volume, V. 58, No. 2-3: 163-186.

Grunsky, E.C., Harris, J.R. and McMartin, I. (2009). Chapter 14: Predictive Mapping of Surficial Materials, Schultz Lake Area (NTS66A), Nunavut, Canada. In Remote Sensing and Spectral Geology, Bedell, Crosta and Grunsky (eds.), Reviews in Economic Geology, Volume 16, Society of Economic Geology, p. 177-198.

McMartin, I., Corriveau, L. and Beaudoin, G (2011). An orientation study of the heavy mineral signature of the NICO Co-Au-Bi deposit, Great Bear magmatic zone, Northwest Territories, Canada; GEEA, Vol. 11, p. 293-307.

Plouffe, A., McClenaghan, M.B., Paulen, R.C., McMartin, I., Campbell, J. and Spirito, W. (2013). Processing of unconsolidated glacial sediments for the recovery of indicator minerals: protocols used at the Geological Survey of Canada; GEEA, Vol. 13, p. 303-316.

McClenaghan, M.B., Plouffe, A., McMartin, I., Campbell, J.E., Spirito, W.A., Paulen, R.C., Garrett R.G.and Hall G.E.M. (2013). Till sampling and geochemical analytical protocols used by the Geological Survey of Canada; GEEA, Vol. 13, p. 285-301.

McMartin, I., Dredge, L.A., Grunsky, E., and Pehrsson, S. (2016). Till geochemistry in west-central Manitoba: interpretation of provenance and mineralization based on glacial history and multivariate data analysis; Economic Geology, v.111: 1001-1020.

Normandeau, P.X., Harlov, D.E., Corriveau, L., Paquette, J., and McMartin, I. (2018). Characterization of fluorapatite within iron oxide alkali-calcic alteration systems of the Great Bear magmatic zone: a potential metasomatic process record; The Canadian Mineralogist, v. 56: 1-21.

McMartin, I., Campbell, J.E., and Dredge, L.A. (2019). Middle Wisconsinan marine shells near Repulse Bay, Nunavut: implications for Marine Isotope Stage 3 ice-free conditions and Laurentide Ice Sheet dynamics in north-west Hudson Bay; Journal of Quaternary Science, v. 34, n. 1: 64-75.

Livingstone, S.J., Lewington, E.L.M., Clark, C.D., Storrar, R.D., Sole, A.J., McMartin, I., Dewald, N. and Ng, F. (2020). A quasi-annual record of time-transgressive esker formation: implications for ice sheet reconstruction and subglacial hydrology; The Cryosphere, v. 14: 1989-2004.

McMartin, I., Godbout, P.-M., Campbell, J.E., Tremblay, T., and Behnia, P. (2021). A new map of glacigenic features and glacial landsystems in central mainland Nunavut, Canada; Boreas, v. 50: 51-75.

Dalton, A.S. et al. (69 co-authors), including McMartin, I. (2020). An updated ice margin chronology for the North American Ice Sheet Complex; Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 234, 27 p. 10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106223

DeBronac de Vazelhes, V., Beaudoin, G., McMartin, I., Côté-Mantha, O., and Boulianne-Verschelden, N. (2021). Assessment of the Amaruq gold deposit signature in glacial sediments using multivariate geochemical data analysis and indicator minerals; Journal of Geochemical Exploration 228: 1-17. 

Dalton, A., Pico, T., Gowan, E.J., Clague, J.J., Forman, S.L., McMartin, I., Sarala, P. and Helmens, K.F. (2022). The marine δ18O record overestimates continental ice volume during Marine Isotope Stage 3. Global and Planetary Change, 15 p. 


Research facility

601 Booth St.
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G1


Geological Association of Canada (GAC)

Canadian Quaternary Association (CANQUA)

Geological Society of America (GSA)

International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA)