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Graeme Spiers

Graeme Spiers

Associate Professor

School of the Environment
Science, Engineering and Architecture
B-5004 Sudbury Campus


Graeme Spiers, Chair of Environmental Monitoring, is cross-appointed in the School of the Environment, the Department of Earth Sciences and the Department of Biology.

I obtained a B.Sc. in Earth Science and Botany at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, retired from farming and obtained M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Alberta, specializing in Pedology, Clay Mineralogy and Chemistry. After consulting in Western Canada, I was a Research Scientist at the University of Guelph for a few years before moving back west as Laboratory Supervisor with Envirotest in Saskatoon. I then migrating east as Operations Supervisor with Sudbury's Geoscience Laboratories in the 1990's, before traveling further east to be Department Head, Inorganic Analytical Chemistry at the Research and Productivity Council in Fredericton for a couple of years (1998 - 1999). My research has resulted in over 80 technical and scientific publications, as well as numerous presentations in analytical chemistry, aquatic chemistry, environmental geology, ecology, plant biology and soil science. Prior to attending university on a full-time basis, I was a New Zealand dairy farmer for 10 years, earning an undergraduate degree as a long-term hobby between milkings.

I am also Director of the Elliot Lake Research Field Station (ELRFS) at Laurentian University, having spent the 12 years from 2000 as the Director, Centre for Environmental Monitoring, The Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation (MIRARCo), the technology transfer group located at Laurentian University. My ongoing research initiatives examine the effects of both historical and current anthropogenic metal emissions on soils, rivers and lakes, as well as vegetation within the Sudbury Smelter Footprint. With an active interest in Technosol development in Land Reclamation on the impacted lands of the mineral industry, I am also involved in a wide variety of research programs across Canada, and actively collaborates with researchers in Russia (Moscow State University and the Russian Academy of Sciences), Peru, United States, Australia, New Zealand, China and South Africa.  


  • B.Sc., University of Waikato, New Zealand
  • M.Sc. University of Alberta, Canada
  • Ph.D., University of Alberta, Canada


  • Publications

    Recent Publications

    Lock, A., Wallschläger, D., Belzile, N. and G.A. Spiers. (2017). Rates and processes affecting As speciation and mobility in lake sediments during aging. Environmental Research (accepted).

    Maseki, J., Annegarn, H.J. and Spiers, G.A. (2017). Health risk of enriched heavy metals (As, Cd and Cr) in airborne particles from Witwatersrand gold tailings. South African Journal of Mining and Metallurgy (in press).

    Watkinson, A., Lock, A., Beckett, P.J. and G. A. Spiers. (2016). Developing manufactured soils from industrial by-products for use as growth substrates in mine reclamation. Restoration Ecology (Manuscript ID REC-16-148; accepted October 4, 2016).

    Lock, Alan, Wallschläger, Dirk, McMurdo, Colin, Tyler, Laura, Belzile, Nelson, and Spiers, Graeme. (2016). Validation of a new fractionation and speciation procedure for inorganic arsenic in oxic and suboxic soils and sediments. Environmental Science and Technology. Manuscript ID: es-2016-02144b. (accepted)

    Kalubi, K. N., Mehes-Smith, M., Spiers, G. A. and A. Omri (2016) . Variation in whole DNA methylation in red maple (Acer rubrum) populations from a mining region: association with metal contamination and cation exchange capacity (CEC) in Podzols. Ecotoxicology (in review, submitted February 29, 2016).

    Karagiorgakis, A., Schindler, M., and G. A. Spiers (2016). Retention of Uranium and Rare Earth Elements in secondary coatings during biogeochemical mineral dissolution of quartz-pebble conglomerate ores from Elliot Lake, Ontario. Applied Geochemistry (in review).

    Lock, A., Spiers, G.A., Hostetler, B., Ray, J. and D. Wallschlager. (2016). Multi-dimensional Water Quality Assessment of an Urban Drinking Water Source Elucidated by High Resolution Underwater Towed Vehicle Mapping. Water Research 93: 289 - 295.

    Nkongolo, K.K., Michael, P., Theriault, G., Narendrula, R., Castilloux, P., Kalubi, K. N., Beckett, P. and G. Spiers (2016). Assessing biological impacts of land reclamation in a mining region in Canada: Effects of dolomitic lime applications on forest ecosystems and microbial phospholipid fatty acid signatures. Water, Air and Soil Pollution 227: 104. DOI: 10.1007/s11270-016-2803-5.

    Tran, A., Nkongolo, K.K., Mehes-Smith, M., Narendrula, R., Spiers, G. and Beckett, P. (2014). Heavy metal analysis in Red Oak (Quercus rubra) populations from a mining region in Northern Ontario (Canada): Effect of soil liming and analysis of genetic variation.  American Journal of Environmental Sciences 10 (4): 363-373. 

    Williamson, A.L., Caron, F. and Spiers, G.A. (2014). Radionuclide release from simulated waste material after biogeochemical leaching of uraniferous mineral samples, Journal of Environmental Radioactivity xxx: 1-7.

    Nkongolo, K.K., Spiers, G.A., Beckett, P.J., Narendrula, R., Theriault, G., Tran, A.  and K,N. Kalubi. 2013. Long term effects of liming on soil chemistry and toxicity in eroded and upland areas of a mining region. Water Air Soil Pollution (2013) 224:1618. 

    Narendrula, R., Nkongolo, K.K, Beckett, P.J. and G.A. Spiers (2013).Total and bioavailable metals in two contrasting mining regions (Sudbury in Canada and Lubumbashi in DR-Congo): relation to genetic variation in plant populations. Chemistry and Ecology 29: 111 - 127.  

    Hargreaves, J., Lock, A., Beckett, P.J., Spiers, G.A., Tisch, B., Lanteigne, L., Posadowski, T. and Soenens, M. (2011). Suitability of an organic residual cover on tailings for bioenergy crop production: A preliminary assessment. Canadian Journal of Soil Science 92: 203 – 211.

    Abedin, M.J., Beckett, P.J. and Spiers, G.A. (2011). Comparison of Single Extraction Schemes for Phytoavailability of Ni, Cu, Co, Cd, Pb, As and Se in a Mining Impacted Region of Ontario, Canada. Canadian Journal of Soil Science 92: 253 – 268.

    Bogart, S.J., Spiers, G.A. and Cholewa, E. (2010). X-ray CT imaging technique reveals corm microstructures of an arctic-boreal cotton-sedge, Eriophorum vaginatum. Journal of Structural Biology 171 (2010) 361–371.

    Recent Conference Proceedings Publications: 

    Vanderhorst, R., Watkinson, A., Beckett, P.J., and Spiers, G.A. 2016.  Technosol evaluation for mine site reclamation on the boreal shield. Canadian Land Reclamation Society Annual Meetings, Timmins, ON. June 26-29, 2016. 12pp.

    Serré, J., Vanderhorst, R., Watkinson, R., Hayes, S., Spiers, G.A., and P.J. Beckett Soil amendments to increase vegetative growth on developing Technosols. Canadian Land Reclamation Society Annual Meetings, Timmins, ON. June 26-29, 2016. 13pp.

    Krane, C., Hoage, J., Mullin, D., Welch, E., Oliviera, S., Spiers, G.A. and P.J. Beckett. 2016. Soil Microarthropods: a Preliminary Study of their Potential Use as Bioindicators in Ecological Restoration. Canadian Land Reclamation Society Annual Meetings, Timmins, ON. June 26-29, 2016. 13pp.

    B. Tisch, J. Hargreaves, P.J. Beckett, A. Lock and G.A. Spiers. 2012. Post-Mining Agriculture for Biofuels on Mine Tailings: An Overview of Results from the Green Mines Green Energy (GMGE) Initiative. 9th International Conference on Acid Rock Drainage. Ottawa, May 20 – 26, 2012.

    Spiers, G.A., 2012. Healing the Sudbury, Canada, Landscape. The Second International Environmental Conference -Environmental Protection and Industrial Activities in the North, Norilsk, Siberia, Russia. September 2011.

    Beckett, P.J., Spiers, G.A., Monet, S. and McCaffrey, T. (2011). New directions in restoring the smelter-impacted landscape in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada following a comprehensive environmental risk assessment. Enviromine2011, 2nd International Seminar on Environmental Issues in the Mining Industry. Santiago, Chile. November 23-26, 2011. 

    Hechler, J. and Spiers, G.A. (2011). Insight Into Elemental Trends In Ramsey Lake, Sudbury, Sediment Profiles. Mining and the Environment International Conference V – Sudbury 2011. 

    Hechler, J., Udachin, V., Aminov, P., Beckett, P.J., and Spiers, G.A., 2011 Characterization of Dust and Weathering Products from the Karabash Smelter area, Ural Mountains, Russia; Mining and the Environment International Conference V – Sudbury 2011. 

    Driscoll, K. and Spiers, G.A. (2011). Dynamics of Organo-Metal Movement in Smelter Fallout Impacted Soils. Mining and the Environment International Conference, Sudbury2011. 

    Williamson, A.L., Spiers, G.A. (2011). Closure plan development for bioleaching pads – A laboratory scale analysis. Mining and the Environment International Conference V – Sudbury 2011. 

    Williamson, A. L., Payne, R., Kerr, F., Hall, S., and Spiers, G. A. (2010). Microbes: Uranium Miners, Money Makers, Problem Solvers. In E. K. Lam, J. W. Rowson, & E. Ozberk (Ed.), Uranium 2010: The Future is U, pp. 531-543. Saskatoon: The Metallurgical Society of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum. 

    Lock, A.S., Hargreaves, J.C., Spiers, G.A., Beckett, P.J., Tisch, B., and Hall, S.T.  2010.  From mine wasteland to biofuel cropland – the Ontario experience.  In: Proceedings of Mine Closure 2010: 5th International Conference on Mine Closure, November 23-26, 2010. Santiago, Chile.


    Koptsik, G., Koptsik, S. Spiers, G.A. and P.J. Beckett. (2016). RESTORATION OF SMELTER INDUSTRIAL BARRENS FOLLOWING POLLUTION REDUCTION DRIVES ECONOMIC RECOVERY. Pp 473-493. In: K. Shih and M. N. V. Prasad (ed). 2016. Resource Recovery and Pollution Prevention. Elsevier, Oxford, United Kingdom.

    C.D. Wren, Spiers, G.A., Ferguson, G. and McLaughlin, D. (2012). The 2001 Soil Survey and Selection of Chemicals of Concern. Pp. 19- 29. In: Wren, C.D (ed). Risk Assessment and Environmental Management: A Case Study in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Maralte B.V., Leiden, The Netherlands

    Wren, C.D., Gilbertson, M.K., Spiers, G.A., Beckett, P.J., Stanbury, D. and Kershaw, M. (2012). Are the Chemicals of Concern Preventing the Recovery of Terrestrial Plant Communities? Pp. 30-70. In: Wren, C.D. Risk Assessment and Environmental Management: A Case Study in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Maralte B.V., Leiden, the Netherlands.

    G.A. Spiers, Wren, C.D. and D. McLaughlin. (2012). Distribution of Chemicals of Concern in the Study Area, pp. 71 – 95. In: Wren, C.D. Risk Assessment and Environmental Management: A Case Study in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Maralte B.V., Leiden, The Netherlands.