Horseshoe Canyon


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North America » Canada » Alberta » Drumheller
June 23rd 2010
Published: December 30th 2010
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With the mountains so accessible to the west of Calgary, it is sometimes easy to forget that there is great geology to be seen to the east, especially for a sedimentologist. Each summer, the University Outreach Committee of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists puts on a one-day field trip for students based in Calgary. I got to go along this year, not just because I am a student, but because I am a member of the University Outreach Committee.

The day started bright and early in downtown Calgary. We were delayed leaving the city because our bus had a little accident while it was parking on the street (street signs can do a lot of damage when a bus sideswipes them), but that just gave everyone lots of time to grab a coffee for the road. Once a new bus arrived, we were on our way out of the city towards Drumheller.

There was some highway construction, and for people only used to the wide paved highways between major cities in Canada, having the bus go down a narrow unpaved road was unnerving. I chuckled at how "desensitized" my five weeks in Bolivia in 2009 have made me to driving conditions.

The leader of this field trip is an old friend of mine, and it was great to see him in action. Not only is he a good geologist, he's a good teacher too, so it was an excellent day exploring the Bearpaw-Horeshoe Canyon Formation around the Drumheller area. I won't bore you with all the geological details, but when you look at the photos, try to imagine that about 75 million years ago (give or take a few million years), this area was the western margin of an Inland Seaway that extended from the far north down to the Gulf of Mexico.

The weather was fantastic--it was one of the first sunny days in an unusually wet summer, and the rain clouds on the horizon didn't release anything until we were back in Calgary "discussing geology" at a pub.


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