Earth and Planetary Sciences

Erin Walton

Associate Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences

PhD (New Brunswick), B.Sc. (New Brunswick)

5-132C, City Centre Campus
10700 – 104 Avenue
Edmonton, AB


Dr. Erin Walton holds a Discovery Grant awarded by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The focus of her research is shock metamorphism of astromaterials, with an emphasis on Martian meteorites. These samples have been delivered to Earth by high velocity collisions of asteroids or comets with the surface of Mars, ejecting the rocks into space.  The high temperatures and pressures of this ejection event change the rocks from their original state. Erin uses high precision analytical techniques such as transmission electron microscopy, Raman spectroscopy and Ar-Ar laser geochronology to study the age of the rocks, and how their isotopic and chemical compositions have been affected.The results of this research have implications for planning future Mars missions because, at present, the meteorites remain the only samples from this planet available for direct study.

Dr Walton's research interests also encompass the age and formation of terrestrial impact structures, such as the 91 million year old Steen River Impact Crater in Alberta. Erin currently teaches first-year Earth science courses andsecond-year mineralogy and is developing a third-year interdisciplinary geochemistry course. One goal is to integrate her research with teaching, so that knowledge from conducting advanced research can be used to design an innovative and insightful learning environment for students to build their analytical skills.

Dr. Walton believes that the best teachers are those who are enthusiastic about their subject matter. This passion is an important component of effective teaching as it leads to thorough preparation, and continuous evolution of teaching practices, methodology and styles. More importantly enthusiasm in the classroom sparks curiosity and learning in students.

Available to supervise senior students' independent study.

Martian meteorites, shergottites, shock metamorphism, high-temperature experimental petrology, terrestrial impact structures, high pressure mineralogy, argon-argon radioisotopic dating, Raman Spectroscopy

Teaching and Research Interests

  • EASC 219 Mineralogy
  • EASC 101 Introduction to Physical Earth Sciences
  • EASC 100 The Planet Earth
  • EASC 105 Dynamic Earth Through Time
  • EASC 320 Geochemistry
  • EASC 206 Soil Science
  • EASC 495 Special Topics
  • EASC 406 Planetary Materials

Selected Publications / Presentations / Conference Papers

Walton, E.L., Sharp, T.G., & Hu, J. (2016). Frictional melting processes and the generation of shock veins in terrestrial impact structures: Evidence from the Steen River impact structure Alberta, Canada. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 180: 256–270.

Davies, J.H.F.L., Stern, R.J., Heaman, L.M., Rojas, X., Walton, E.L., Valley, J.V. & DuFrane, S.A. (2015) Seeing through the effects of oxygen isotopic disturbance in zircon using SIMS, Raman spectroscopy and trace element analyses: A case study from the low δ18O Scourie dykes, NW Scotland. American Mineralogist, 100, 1952–1966. doi: 10.2138/am-2015-5221

Walton, E.L., Sharp, T.G., Hu, J., & Filiberto, J. (2014). Heterogeneous mineral assemblages in Martian meteorite Tissint as a result of a recent small impact event on Mars. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 140: 334–348.

Walton, E.L. (2013) Shock metamorphism of Elephant Moraine A79001: Implications for olivine-ringwoodite transformation and the complex thermal history of heavily shocked Martian meteorites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 107, 219–315. doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2012.12.021

Walton, E.L., Kelley, S.P., Herd, C.D.K., and Irving, A.J. (2013). A laser probe 40Ar/39Ar investigation of poikilitic shergottite Northwest Africa 4797: Implications for the timing of shock metamorphism. Geological Society of London Special Publication. 40Ar/39Ar Dating: From Geochronology to Thermochronology, from Archaeology to Planetary Sciences. doi: 10.1144/SP378.11

Awards / Grants / Fellowships

  • National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) / Discovery Grant (2011-2018)
  • NSERC / Early Career Researcher Supplement to NSERC Discovery Grant (2011-2018)
  • MacEwan University / MacEwan Research, Creative Achievements and Scholarly Activity Fund (2007)
  • Canadian Space Agency / Space Science Fellowship (2007)
  • American Geophysical Union / Editor’s Citation for Excellence in Refereeing for Geophysical Research Letters (2007)
  • NSERC / Postdoctoral Fellowship (2005-2007)
  • Canadian Space Agency / Supplement to an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2005-2007)
  • Alberta Ingenuity Fund / Ingenuity Fellowship (2005-2007)
  • The Leonard and Kathleen O’Brien Humanitarian Trust / O’Brien Foundation Fellowship (2004)
  • University of New Brunswick / J.S. Little International Student Fellowship Award (2004)
  • NSERC / Postgraduate Scholarship (PGS)-b (2003-2005)
  • Canadian Space Agency / Supplement to an NSERC PGS-b Scholarship (2003-2005)
  • University of New Brunswick / Board of Governors Merit Award (2003)
  • University of New Brunswick / Dr. W.J. Wright Graduate Fellowship (2002)
  • University of New Brunswick / Lowell Trembath Memorial Prize (2001)
  • Microscopical Society of Canada / Paul Odense Memorial Award (2001)
  • Mineralogical Association of Canada / Canadian Student Award in Mineralogy & Petrology (2001)

Professional Associations / Memberships

  • Meteoritical Society
  • American Geophysical Union (2009 - present)
  • Mineralogical Association of Canada (2007 - 2009)
  • Edmonton Geological Society

Boards / Committees

  • Meteoritical Society Membership Committee. full committee member and chair, Meteoritical Society (2012–present)
  • 76th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society, local organizing committee, Edmonton, AB (2012–present)
  • Program Committee for the 76th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society, co-chair, Edmonton, AB (2012–present)
  • Space Exploration Advisory Committee (SEAC) to the Canadian Space Agency, full committee member (2010)