From modest digs at UBC, Canadian Earth science journal celebrates 100 years

March 10, 2021

The Canadian Mineralogist, a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes papers from worldwide authors on all aspects of mineralogy, crystallography, petrology, geochemistry and mineral deposits, celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

In typical Canadian fashion, the journal operates on a shoestring compared to its rivals—its office is a back room in UBC’s LS Klinck building and its editorial is powered by volunteers.

“This is one of very few scientific journals that isn’t associated with a commercial publishing house,” says UBC earth scientist Dr. Lee Groat, who serves as part-time chief editor of the journal. “Given increasing competition from commercial and predatory journals it’s unknown how long Canadian Mineralogist can survive in its current form. For now, however, we’re celebrating 100 years of a very unique Canadian achievement.”

Dr. Groat and managing editor Mackenzie Parker (UBC Earth and Ocean Sciences 2001) are aided by volunteer editors from across Canada and eight other countries. EOAS students gain experience and play an important paid role in fact checking—for example ensuring that mineral names adhere to international standards.

Rhiana Henry, the current mineral fact checker for Canadian Mineralogist and PhD student at UBC Vancouver, says working on the journal helps broaden her horizons beyond topics that would be covered under her PhD.

“Mineralogy bridges the disciplines of geology, crystallography, petrology, mineral deposits, and geochemistry, and I’m learning about each field,” says Henry, whose PhD is focused on a single mineral, beryl.

“I’ve read papers ranging from description of crystal growth in caves due to bat guano, papers about platinum group element ores in South Africa, papers on in-depth crystallography of newly described minerals, gem turquoise from the Middle East, minerals created by lightning strikes, and of the mineralogy and petrology of pegmatites from around the world.”

The ragtag approach does seem to be working—in 2019 the journal ranked second in Canada in its field, with an impact factor of 74.

The Canadian Mineralogist has its roots in Contributions to Canadian Mineralogy (part of the University of Toronto Studies, Geological Series), which was founded in 1921 by Thomas Leonard Walker and was the leading publication of academic mineralogical research in Canada for many years.

Support for Studies was withdrawn in 1948, but Martin Peacock, who at the time was both responsible for editing Contributions and serving as president of the Mineralogical Society of America, persuaded his council to devote one of the six yearly numbers of American Mineralogist to Canadian papers (they were called Canadian Contributions). Canadian Contributions continued as part of American Mineralogist until 1955, with The Canadian Mineralogist coming into existence two years later, in 1957.

The Canadian Mineralogist is recognized to be the continuation of the earlier Contributions, and its volumes are numbered accordingly. The Contributions to Canadian Mineralogy, University of Toronto Studies have been designated as volumes l to 4 of The Canadian Mineralogist; the seven Contributions of American Mineralogist have been designated as volume 5; and thus the first volume published as The Canadian Mineralogist is volume 6.

Currently six issues totaling approximately 120 papers are published per year.