Science Atlantic-Atlantic Geoscience Society Speaker Tour Series 2022-2023

Steven Edwards


Centre of Geographic Sciences
NSCC - Nova Scotia Community College

Dates and Locations

  • Acadia: January 12, 2023
  • SMU: January 26, 2023
  • UNB: March 2, 2023

Geospatial Technologies and the Archaeology of the Near East: Reflections, Challenges, Future Directions

Recent advances in geospatial technologies have had a profound impact on archaeological research. From ground penetrating radar to hyperspectral imagery to digital photogrammetry, these developments have changed how archaeologists detect sites, locate their trenches, analyze material culture, and present archaeological data to the public. In this talk, I reflect on how geospatial technologies have transformed the archaeology of the Near East over the past few decades, focusing especially on my experiences working on surveys and excavations in Jordan. I report on a range of challenges faced by archaeologists wanting to leverage geospatial technologies—for example, gaps in training, high cost of entry, policy impasses. Finally, I offer a few comments on the future trajectory of archaeological research in the Near East, and how archaeologists can both continue to profit from and contribute to developments in the geospatial sciences.

About Steven

I am an archaeologist specializing in the study of early states and empires in the ancient Near East. My research leverages geospatial technologies to better understand socio-political organization in the past. I am interested in answering big questions like how states expand and grow into territorial entities and empires, as well as more specific questions like why a watchtower was situated in a given location, or what routes people took when traveling between settlements. I completed my Ph.D. in Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Toronto in 2019. My doctoral research used graph theory to examine patterns in the toponymy of the Ebla texts, and used these patterns as a proxy for modeling settlement hierarchies in the norther Levant during the Early Bronze Age. 

In 2020, I joined the Center of Geographic Sciences (part of the Nova Scotia Community College system) where I serve as the Faculty Lead for our post-graduate certificate program in Geospatial Data Analytics. I have worked on archaeological excavations and surveys in Cyprus, Turkey, Israel, and Jordan, where I started excavating in 2004. I’m currently a surveyor and field director for the Wadi Qusayba Project in northern Jordan, as well as an associate director of the Wadi ath-Thamad Project in west-central Jordan.

Shawna White


Geology Department

Saint Mary's University

Dates and Locations

  • Dal: November 17, 2022
  • MUN: January 19, 2023
  • StFX (date and time TBD)

The Role of Structural Inheritance within the Northern Appalachians

The northern Appalachian Orogen, extending from Newfoundland (NL) to New England (NE), has a conspicuous sinuous trend of promontories and embayments, interpreted as inherited from the original geometry of Laurentia’s eastern rifted margin formed during break up of Rodinia. Diachronicity in major orogenic pulses has long been attributed to the margins irregular shape (with earliest collisions occurring first at promontories and later in embayments). However, the recognition of an off-margin microcontinent in west NL, severed during rifting, complicates this overly simplistic view. In west NL, deep-seated faults generated during rifting also have a complicated, protracted history, having been reactivated during Ordovician Taconian orogenesis and later inverted during the Early Devonian Acadian Orogeny. Biostratigraphic and isotopic data plotted on a common timescale produces an orogen-wide synthesis of the margin’s variability which demonstrates that all major episodes of deformation affecting the eastern Laurentian margin were diachronous, most readily explained by an irregular margin geometry and off-margin microcontinents. Re-evaluation of map relationships and previously published work also indicates that rift-related structures in QC and NE are analogous to those in NL and may have a similar protracted history. Recognition of extensive reactivation of pre-orogenic basement faults indicates that thick-skinned tectonics likely plays a much more influential role than previously thought in the deformation style within the Laurentian realm. These observations significantly challenge current models of Appalachian processes.

About Shawna

Shawna White is an Assistant Professor in the Geology Department at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. Shawna completed her PhD at the University of Alberta in 2018 working on Northern Appalachian geology. That same year she moved on to Laurentian University and began working as a postdoctoral fellow. There she worked largely on Archean greenstone belt structure and stratigraphy in Northern Ontario. In 2020 she began a faculty position at SUNY Oneonta in New York State before finally landing in Halifax in 2021. Her current research program uses a multidisciplinary approach, combining field methods of mapping and stratigraphy with geochronology and geophysical interpretation, in order to understand the role of structural inheritance and fault reactivation at the deformation front of the Northern Appalachians.