Peter Hollings
2023 Goldich Medal Recipient

ILSG Members, it is our privilege to present the citation for this year’s recipient of the prestigious Goldich Medal to Dr. Peter Hollings.

Pete received his Bachelor of Science with Honours in Geology from the Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London in 1992. He continued as a postgraduate research assistant at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College until 1994 when he enrolled as a Ph.D. student at the University of Saskatchewan. He earned his Ph.D. in 1998 and his doctoral dissertation was titled “Geochemistry of the Uchi subprovince.” He had a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at Saskatchewan, followed by a two-year NSERC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Tasmania.

Pete joined the faculty at Lakehead University in 2001 as an Assistant Professor and in 2009 was promoted to full Professor, a title he continues to hold. Since 2013 Pete has been Director of the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining and Exploration (CESME) at Lakehead University. He has served as Chair of the Department of Geology and as interim Dean of the Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies at Lakehead.

Pete has been recognized for his research through several awards. In 2004 he and his co-authors were awarded the Julian Boldy Award by the Mineral Deposits Division of the Geological Association of Canada for an outstanding paper. In 2008 he was awarded the William Harvey Gross Medal by the Mineral Deposits Division of the Geological Association of Canada for significant contributions to the field of economic geology by a geoscientist under the age of 40. He was part of the team recognized by an award in 2012 and in 2014 by AMIRA International. In 2015 he was named the NSERC Distinguished Researcher for Lakehead University and in 2016 he was named the Lakehead University Research Chair in the NSERC/CHIR category. He received the Howard Street Robinson Medal from the Geological Association of Canada in 2017. In 2021, a paper on which he was co-author was awarded the 2020 Cameron-Hall Copper Medal for the most outstanding scientific publication in the journal Geochemistry: Exploration, Environment, Analysis (GEEA). Pete was awarded the NOHFC Industrial Research Chair in Mineral Exploration for a term from 2020 to 2025.  

Pete has an impressive professional record of publications and presentations. As of 2022, he has been first author or co-author of 145 refereed journal articles, 13 book chapters, 234 reports, 136 papers in refereed conference proceedings, and 87 abstracts in conference proceedings.

While this is an impressive list of accomplishments, it is Pete’s ongoing contributions to our understanding of Lake Superior geology and to the Institute on Lake Superior Geology that make him a worthy recipient of the Goldich Medal. Pete has extensively conducted research on the geology of the Lake Superior region and the broader Superior Province. He has focused on both the Midcontinent Rift System (MRS) and Archean greenstone belts and their mineral resources. More than 30 of his published papers in refereed journals are on Lake Superior geology as well as about half of both his 30 first-authored conference proceedings and 29 first-authored refereed abstracts. He has contributed to more than 60 technical reports on Lake Superior geology. Of his 27 invited presentations, half have dealt with Lake Superior geology.

Pete has a significant number of publications and presentations relevant to the discovery and utilization of natural resources in the Lake Superior region. Some of his numerous economic geology publications and presentations on topics outside of the Lake Superior region are also applicable to our regional geology. An area of emphasis in Peter’s research is the application of geochemistry and petrology to explore for ore deposits, including Ni-Cu-PGE deposits (e.g., Lac des Iles Mine and the Thunder Bay North igneous complex). His other areas of interest include igneous geochemistry of the MRS, Archean greenstone belts and granites, the tectonic setting of komatiites, and Archean gold deposits.

As the Director of CESME, he provides leadership in promoting the discovery of and environmentally responsible exploration for natural resources. Pete has also made contributions to understanding of the natural history and environment of the Lake Superior region as demonstrated by numerous publications focused on the timing and evolution of local rocks and mineral deposits.

Pete’s research is firmly rooted in field work and uses geochemical and other data to test existing ideas and concepts and to develop new ones. He has successfully used local and regional geochemical data to provide evidence and/or implications for broader geological questions, such as atmospheric oxygen in the Precambrian, continental growth and lithospheric recycling, the Superior Province cratonic keel, and the earliest phases of Midcontinent Rift development. In addition to data-driven new ideas and concepts, Pete’s research efforts have resulted in development of new analytical approaches that can be applied to the Lake Superior region and beyond.
As a Professor at Lakehead University, Pete is actively involved the education of geoscientists through classroom teaching and thesis supervision. He is committed to training and mentoring as evidenced by the large role students play in his research. He has supervised and co-supervised 37 honours undergraduate research projects and 32 Masters graduate student theses. Most of this student-focused research has involved Lake Superior geology. His former students now have senior positions with government and industry and some have gone on to complete PhDs. Moreover, he supports and encourages students to attend and present their research at ILSG.
ILSG plays a significant role in Pete’s professional activities. He has authored/co-authored (many with his students) 75 ILSG abstracts (nearly 4 per year), six ILSG field trip guidebooks, and ILSG Special Publication #1, Field trip guidebook for the Slate Islands, Ontario. At his very first ILSG meeting in 2002, Pete co-authored an abstract and served on the Student Paper Awards Committee.

Pete has Chaired or Co-Chaired four in-person annual meetings (Nipigon, 2005; International Falls, 2010; Thunder Bay, 2012; Terrace Bay, 2019) and the virtual meeting in 2021. He has served as the Secretary of the ILSG from 2003 to the present. As Secretary, he is responsible for email communications with the members of ILSG. As a member of the Board, he attends and chairs the annual Board meeting. In ILSG Board meetings he always considers and defends the best interests of Institute. Pete is the ILSG webmaster and played a key role in the current design of the ILSG website which he updates and maintains. Through his efforts, Lakehead University is the digital archive to all of the past ILSG proceedings and field trip guidebooks and provides open access of this content worldwide. A testament to the quality and accessibility of these documents was ILSG’s receiving the 2016 Outstanding Geologic Field Trip Guidebook Series Award by the Geoscience Information Society (GSIS), which Pete accepted on behalf of the Institute. The stature of ILSG in the regional, national, and international geological communities has been elevated because of the increased presence of ILSG on the worldwide web, in large part because of Pete’s efforts.

Over the years, we have all witnessed Pete in action. He is collegial, easy to approach and gets along well with others, whether they be students, colleagues or industry geoscientists. He is both a good listener and a good speaker. And he is open-minded. He has high personal standards and expects them to be reflected in the work of his students and research colleagues. Pete is truly enthusiastic about the geology of the Lake Superior region and about ILSG.

Pete has made and continues to make substantial contributions to the field of geology and to the Institute on Lake Superior Geology. Pete has more than met the qualifications that are engraved on the Goldich Medal itself: “For outstanding contributions to the geology of the Lake Superior region.”

We congratulate the 2023 Goldich Medalist, Peter Hollings.

Citation by:
Theodore J. Bornhorst, Goldich Medalist 2008
Mark C. Smyk, Goldich Medalist 2005