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Olav Lian

Olav Lian, PhD

Director, Luminescence Dating Laboratory

Geography and the Environment

Abbotsford campus, A406f

Phone: 604-504-7441 ext. 4307

email Olav
Adjunct Professor, Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University
Adjunct Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University
Adjunct Professor, Department of Geography, University of Victoria


Appointments and Awards

  • 2012 UFV Research Excellence Award Recipient
  • Director, UFV Luminescence Dating Laboratory
  • Distinguished International Visitor, Department of Geography, Durham University (UK), Fall 2012
  • Associate Editor, Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences

I was born in Vancouver and grew up on the North Shore, at the fringe of the Coast Mountains. I earned my BSc in Physics from Simon Fraser University in the late 1980s. This was followed by a Research Assistant position in the SFU Physics Department. In 1989, I joined the graduate program in SFU's Geography Department, and completed my MSc degree (physical geography) in 1991. I was then employed as a sessional instructor in the same department.

In September 1993, I joined the Geology Department (later, the Department of Earth Sciences) at the University of Western Ontario where I completed my PhD (Geology) in 1997. I was then hired by the School of Earth Science at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand) as a Research Fellow in Geology (1997-1999).

In the spring of 1999, I resigned from that position and returned to SFU and worked as a Research Associate in the Physics Department until 2002. This was followed by a permanent faculty position in the Geography Department, Centre for Quaternary Research, at Royal Holloway, University of London.

In early 2005, I escaped the high cost of living in southern England and returned to Canada to take up a post as a faculty member in the Geography Department at UFV. I currently hold adjunct professorships in the departments of Geography and Earth Sciences at SFU, and in the Department of Geography at the University of Victoria.


PhD (geology), University of Western Ontario, 1997

MSc (geography), Simon Fraser University, 1991

BSc (physics), Simon Fraser University, 1988

Teaching Interests


GEOG 102: Evolution of the Earth's Surface

GEOG 103: The Physical Environment

GEOG 202: Introduction to Geomorphology

GEOG 302: Fluvial Geomorphology

GEOG 400g: Theory & Application of Luminescence Dating

GEOG 402: Quaternary Geology & Geomorphology

GEOG 452: Field Methods & Techniques

Research Interests

My NSERC-funded research includes Quaternary sedimentology and stratigraphy, glacial geology, geomorphology, and geochronology (luminescence dating). I have collaborated with geomorphologists, glacial geologists, physicists, geophysicists, and biologists.

I am mainly interested in understanding the character of environmental change in western Canada over the Quaternary Period (last ~2.5 million years), but I am also collaborating on research projects in the eastern and western Canadian Arctic, Australia, and Patagonia (southernmost Chile and Argentina), and I have collaborated on projects in New Zealand, Russia and Indonesia.

For more information on my research, see my research page and my publications and seminars page.

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