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The RIFF - Ichnological Research Group

on . Posted in About Ichnology.ca

The ichnology group in the department of Earth Sciences at Memorial University is one of the world's leading centers for ichnological research. The group is led by Dr. Duncan McIlroy who has over 18 years of ichnological experience, particularly in the ichnology of marine depositional systems, and its use in petroleum geology.


The research group goes under the acronym RIFF (Reservoir Ichnology: Friendly ichnoFossils)


RIFF consists of a highly integrated team of Postdoctoral fellows, Doctoral and, Masters students augmented with student researchers, technical staff and affiliated researchers. The group is currently focussed on ichnofabric studies and reservoir ichnology from a number of depositional settings, with fieldwork in Canada, USA, Mexico, Argentina, New Zealand, France, and Great Britain. Our studies of ancient depositional settings is coupled with neoichnological investigations in a state of the art laboratory with saltwater aquaria, and a dedicated X-ray CT scanning facility.


The long term goal of the research group is to develop the science of ichnology as a rigorous and practical tool for the petroleum geologist, particularly with respect to reservoir characterization and palaeoenvironmental analysis. The group as a whole is interested in all organism-sediment interactions, be they textural, geochemical or even geotechnical. We aim to culture a truly inter-disciplinary working environment, producing science that is rigorous, challenging, innovative, objective and fun.
Our funding comes from a mixture of industry and government sources, enabling us to pursue a mixture of innovative "blue-skies" investigations, coupled with real world proof-of-concept studies. Current sponsoring agencies are NSERC, PRAC, SLOPES 2, Statoil.


Our home is in the department of Earth Sciences at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's Newfoundland. Our department has one of the largest and most diverse Earth Science departments in Canada. With 30 faculty members, 15 staff members, and leading-edge teaching and research facilities, the department is able to offer high quality undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Graduates of Memorial’s Earth Sciences department have gone on to careers in academia, government, and the private sector.