Caitlin Jones: A journey from South Africa to the heart of Canadian geology

Caitlin Jones, a dedicated geologist from South Africa, has carved a remarkable path in geoscience, marked by a passion for understanding the Earth's complex systems. Born and raised in South Africa, Caitlin completed her undergraduate and master’s (MSc) degrees at Stellenbosch University. Her love of nature and outdoor activities like hiking and camping complement her chosen career. However, the cold Canadian winters may cause some nostalgia for South Africa’s warm climate.


Caitlin's journey into geology began during her early academic years when geography classes piqued her curiosity. She says, “Geography classes answered many of my questions about the Earth's formation and the interworking of natural systems, and this early fascination led me to pursue a degree in geology, where I discovered the wealth of information that can be gathered from studying the vast array of minerals and rock types.” As she dove deeper into her studies, Caitlin developed a particular interest in structural and economic geology, ultimately guiding her to pursue an MSc in Geology. Her research focused on the Sheba and Fairview mines within the Barberton Greenstone Belt in South Africa, examining the controls on hydrothermal fluid flow and gold mineralization.


After completing her MSc, Caitlin worked as a structural geology consultant in South Africa. This experience deepened her fascination with the complexity of gold mineralization, prompting her to pursue doctoral studies (PhD) to further her expertise and expand her knowledge base. Driven by her desire to eventually lecture and give back to the academic community, Caitlin sees her PhD as a crucial step in her professional development.


A doctoral project with the Mineral Exploration Research Centre (MERC) caught Caitlin's attention because of the Centre’s stellar reputation, outstanding researchers and faculty, and state-of-the-art equipment. The project, which focuses on the Abitibi Greenstone Belt and Agnico Eagle’s Detour Lake site, the largest gold-producing mine in Canada, was the key factor that motivated her to move halfway around the world to Canada. 


Here, Caitlin says she has found “the perfect environment” to hone her skills and broaden her knowledge. Her project aims to unravel the controls and metallogeny of the Agnico Eagle’s Detour Lake gold deposit, located in the northwestern portion of the Abitibi Greenstone Belt in Ontario, enhancing exploration and geological models of the mine. Caitlin says her research “focuses on characterizing gold mineralization events and styles, describing the host rocks and alteration footprint, investigating the structural and geological controls on auriferous mineralization, and incorporating the findings into the broader Detour Lake-Fenelon Gold Belt mineralization models.” The project is sponsored by the Geological Survey of Canada - Targeted Geoscience Initiative, as well as MERC, under the supervision of Ross Sherlock (MERC, Laurentian University) and Sébastien Castonguay (GSC-Quebec).


In recognition of her expertise, Caitlin has been invited as a keynote speaker at the Gold24 symposium in Australia in October. She will discuss gold mineralization in the Barberton Greenstone Belt, sharing her insights and research findings with the international geology community.


Caitlin Jones's journey from Stellenbosch to the forefront of geological research in Canada highlights her dedication and passion for geology. Her work advances our understanding of gold mineralization and exemplifies the global nature of scientific exploration and collaboration.

Feature story by Carolyn Hatton, BSc Earth Sciences, BA Communications (Laurentian University)

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