Directory Profiles

Dr. Stephen T. Johnston


Stephen T. Johnston graduated with a BSc in Geology from McGill University and completed an MSc and PhD at the University of Alberta. Stephen’s MSc, supervised by Henry Charlesworth, involved mapping and structural analysis of coal- and gas-bearing strata within the ‘Triangle Zone’ that characterizes the foothills of the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. His PhD, supervised by Philippe Erdmer, consisted of mapping of a metamorphic terrane within the hinterland of the Cordilleran orogen of SW Yukon. Stephen then joined Shell Canada Ltd. working as an exploration and development geologist focused primarily on oil and gas exploration in the Cordilleran foreland region of Canada and the United States. He has also worked as a project geologist for the BC and Yukon geological surveys; and as a professor at the University of Durban, South Africa. Stephen joined the School of Earth & Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria in 1999, and was named the Director of SEOS in 2011. In 2016 Stephen returned to the University of Alberta, taking on the position of Chair of the department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences.

Stephen is a strong supporter of Earth Science Outreach and an active advocate for the Earth Sciences. He regularly provides presentations to local schools and community associations; was featured in David Suzuki’s Nature of Things series entitled ‘The Geologic Journey’; has served as the President of the Geological Association of Canada; and was the Secretary for the Canadian Geological Foundation. He is currently the International Director of the Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences, and sits on the Executive Committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences. Stephen’s current research focus is on the structure and evolution of modern and ancient mountain systems. His studies are aimed at discerning the record of Earth’s constantly changing paleogeography, and of contributing to our understanding of climate change, the development of mineral and hydrocarbon deposits, and the evolution of life.

Selected Publications

Protolith of ultramafic rocks in the Kluane Schist, Yukon, and implications for arc collisions in the northern Cordillera
Canil D, ST Johnston, RJ D’Souza & LM Heaman
Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 52:431–443 (May 2015)

Age, construction, and exhumation of the midcrust of the Jurassic Bonanza arc, Vancouver Island, Canada
Canil D, ST Johnston, J Larocque, R Friedman & LM Heaman
Lithosphere 5:82–91 (Oct 2012)

The North American Cordillera and West European Variscides: Contrasting interpretations of similar mountain systems
ST Johnston & G Gutierrez-Alonso
Gondwana Research 17:516–525 (Mar 2010)

The Cordilleran Ribbon Continent of North America
Johnston ST
Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 36:495–530 (May 2008)