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Published: August 30th 2011
I am not a morning person. I could be--I enjoy early mornings but I'm not very good at going to bed early enough to drag myself out early the next morning. This makes it hard for me to be ready to start a geology field trip at 7am (especially since I toss and turn the night before because I'm worried about sleeping through my alarm).
Somehow though, I made it to the meeting point on time. I had a Thermos of coffee to enjoy as the bus left Calgary on the way to the mountains. Our first stop was somewhere I'd been before, on two previous field trips, The Foreland and Omineca Belts
and The Foreland and Omineca Belts Repeated
, to look at Mount Yamnuska and talk about the McConnell Thrust that cuts through it. The weather was spectacular, and even at 9am (which was about when we got to the first stop) I could feel a sunburn developing (which was quickly remedied once we got back on the bus).
This field trip was a bit different than the other two I'd been on to this location. It wasn't the beginning of a transect through the Rockies, it was a one-day trip for geology & geophysics students run
by the technical organization I volunteer with. We run the trip every year, alternating between the mountains and the prairies. Last year we took the students to Drumheller Horseshoe Canyon
The next stop was at the Kananaskis Dam at Seebe, usually called the Seebe Dam. I'd been there before, but I'd never seen as much water being released from the dam as there was this year. It surprised the field trip leader too, who had planned on looking at some structures and some sedimentology (including trace fossils) below the dam. We had to settle for discussing the geology in the sunshine over the roar of the water.
After stopping in Canmore for a coffee break, we hiked up to Grassi Lakes. It is a short hike, but it is steep. At the top are a couple of tiny green lakes at the base of a huge cliff of a really important geological formation (the Southesk Fm, which is equivalent to the Leduc Fm., which is what stored the oil that started Alberta's boom). It's an ancient reef, but not like the kind you see snorkelling and diving today. I know the significance of the outcrop and I've visited other
outcrops of the same formation, but this was only the second time in ten years I'd been up to Grassi Lakes.
The final stop on the field trip was walking the "Banff Traffic Circle" section. This is another famous geological section, right along the Trans-Canada Highway (where there used to be a traffic circle). It's overturned, which means everything sits on its side so you can actually walk along the section from bottom to top. For those of you reading this who are not geologists, you always go from bottom (oldest) to top (youngest) when studying/describing a geological section. The other field trips I've been on had brief stops here, but this was the first time I've walked the whole section, including going up a little bit into the bushes to see the petrified logs in a couple of places. The geology marks the time when this part of Alberta was transitioning from a marine basin to a non-marine basin. It's also the time interval I'm studying for my master's research.
We stopped in Canmore to pick up pizza for the drive back to Calgary. It was about this time that I discovered there was one place I
forgot to keep applying sunscreen--my shins.
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