Canadian Rockies – Alberta Badlands Geology Guidebook

The Canadian Rockies to Alberta Badlands geology guidebook is published by the Association for Women Geoscientists.

The Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) published their first geology field trip guidebook in late 2016 and it is now available for sale to the general public. This guideboook is a collection of geology road logs, associated geological information, and local cultural history of areas within the Canadian Rockies and the Alberta Badlands. The following text is a brief summary of the guidebook:

“TECTONICS, CLIMATE CHANGE AND EVOLUTION – SOUTHERN CANADIAN CORDILLERA: Road Log and Accompanying Narratives From: Calgary – Lake Louise – Icefields – Field – Revelstoke – Fernie -Dinosaur Provincial Park – Calgary”, published by the Association for Women Geoscientists, 2016.

This field trip guidebook is written by Katherine J.E. Boggs and Debra L. Hanneman, and edited by Janet Wert Crampton and Stephanie Yager. It is the AWG’s first fully published field trip guidebook and is a field-tested guide from their two-week 2014 field trip through the Canadian Rockies and Alberta’s Badlands area.

The guidebook is a 209-page geology tour through many of the well-known parts of the Alberta Canadian Rockies, including the Front and Main Ranges of the Canadian Rockies and the Columbia Icefields. The Burgess Shale’s Walcott Quarry, the Okanagan Valley vineyards, and the Rocky Mountain Trench are trip highlights for geo-tours in British Columbia. The field trip guidebook ends with a geology tour of the Crowsnest Pass area on the British Columbia/Alberta border, and with field stops in Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park and at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta.

The field guide is printed on double-sided 8.5″ x 11″ pages with the guide cover on 100 lb paper and the text on 80 lb paper. It has black wire-o binding and a clear acetate front and a black acetate backing for improved field durability. The guidebook’s cost is $55 USD (which includes shipping), and can be purchased at the AWG online store or by phoning the AWG main office at 303-412-6219.

A Different Look At The Burgess Shale – The Stanley Glacier Burgess Shale Hike, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, Canada

The Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale and its contained fossils are legendary to earth scientists. These fossils are by far the best record of Cambrian animal fossils. The importance of the Burgess Shale fossils is also linked to their excellent preservation. The fossils include many soft bodied animals in addition to those with hard parts – an extremely rare occurrence for fossil assemblages.

I finally hiked to the Walcott Quarry on Fossil Ridge near Field, B.C., last year, just to better understand the context of the Burgess Shale. It was well worth the effort (it is a long, and as other hikers phrased it – a gut-busting hike). Before my Walcott Quarry hike, I’d read that Kootenay National Park just started hosting hikes to Burgess Shale type faunas (BST) in the Stanley Glacier area. It only took a good dinner and a beer after the Walcott Quarry hike to decide that I’d do the Stanley Glacier Burgess Shale hike.

Stanley Glacier Valley, Kootenay National Park - the view is looking west from the upper talus slopes.
Stanley Glacier Valley, Kootenay National Park – the view is looking west from the upper talus slopes.

Stanley Glacier BST fossils (approximately 505 million years in age) are about 40 km southeast of the Field, B.C. (Yoho National Park) locales. Recent work in both the Marble Canyon and the Stanley Glacier areas of Kootenay National Park yielded noteworthy additions to understanding the BST fossils and their depositional environments. BST fossils found in the Marble Canyon area include 25 new species of organisms; 8 new species are now recorded for the Stanley Glacier BST fossils. Of more interest to me (being a sedimentologist), is that the depositional environment in the Kootenay National Park area differs from that of the Field, B.C. area. Although the Burgess Shale fossils are found within the Stephen Formation in both areas, there is a marked difference in this rock unit from one area to the other area. Around Field, B.C., the Stephen Formation is the “thick or basinal” (about 276 to 370 meters thick) Stephen and it resulted from deposition at the base of the older Cathedral Formation Escarpment (a submarine cliff) via turbidity flows. In the Stanley Glacier area, the Stephen Formation is relatively “thin” (about 33 meters thick) and is probably the result of deposition at the distal edge of a marine platform (Caron and others, 2010; Gaines, 2011). The stratigraphic placement of the Burgess Shale rock units also differs from the Field, B.C. area to the Stanley Glacier area. Based upon the presence certain trilobites and stratigraphic evidence (Caron and others, 2010), the “thin” Stephen Formation at Stanley Glacier is stratigraphically above the Field, B.C. Burgess Shale localities.

The Cambrian rock units on the south wall of the Stanley Glacier area. The Stephen Formation is the unit that contains the Burgess Shale type fossils. The lockbox location is the hike’s end.

With that small bit of Burgess Shale background, I’ll get back to the actual hike up the Stanley Glacier valley to the Stephen Formation talus slopes and outcrop. The hike is hosted by Kootenay National Park and is about 10 km for the round trip. The elevation gain is about 450 meters. The first part of the hike is through glacial material and a fire-swept lodgepole pine forest. Forest fires burned through this area most recently in 1968 and in 2003. Luckily for paleontologists, the fire bared many slopes and definitely helped in locating BST fossil beds. A little more than halfway through the hike, one breaks out of the trees onto the talus slopes of Stanley Glacier’s valley. The hike continues over the talus slope to a very large boulder. Several BST fossil specimens are locked in a box kept behind this boulder. Our guide gives an informative talk about the lockbox fossils and we have much time to pick around the talus slope for more fossils.

Burgess Shale type fossil specimens are kept in a lock box behind the large rock. These specimens are the focus of an informative talk by the Kootenay National Park hike guide.
Burgess Shale type fossil specimens are kept in a lockbox behind the large rock located on the talus slope. These specimens are the focus of an informative talk by the Kootenay National Park hike guide.

In 1989, an expedition party from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) located fossils from Stephen Formation talus in this area (Rigby and Collins, 2004: Sponges of the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale and Stephen Formations, British Columbia; Royal Ontario Museum Contributions in Science 1: 1–155.). Caron and others (2010) also document that some of their fossil assemblage material came from the talus slope, so it’s worth some time to look around (Caron and others, 2010 GSA Data Repository).

Talus slopes beneath the Cambrian Stephen Formation are prime areas for Burgess Shale type fossils.
Talus slopes beneath the Cambrian Stephen Formation are prime areas for Burgess Shale type fossils.

Keep in mind that this is within a Canadian National Park, so do not keep any of the fossil material. The quarry that has been worked recently in this area (the quarry was initially worked in 2008 by ROM earth scientists) is yet beyond the hike’s end point, near the southwest edge of the cirque.

Stanley Glacier BST shelly fauna includes characteristic Cambrian taxa such as hyolithids, brachiopods, and trilobites. Soft-bodied BST creatures such as the necktobenthic or nektonic arthropods and proto-arthropods Stanleycaris hirpex n. gen., n. sp., Tuzoia retifera, and Sidneyia inexpectans also are part of the BST fauna. Trace fossils are plentiful on some bedding surfaces. These include trails, shallow burrows, and arthropod trackways.

Tuzoia - a fossil arthropod specimen from the lockbox collection.
Tuzoia – a fossil arthropod specimen from the lockbox collection.
Sidneyia - a fossil arthropod from the lockbox collection.
Sidneyia – a fossil arthropod from the lockbox collection (this specimen is actually from Marble Canyon).
Sponge spicules - from the fossil lockbox collection.
Sponge spicules – from the fossil lockbox collection.
Haplophrentis - an enigmatic tubular fossil known as a hyolith. This fossil is from the lockbox collection.
Haplophrentis – an enigmatic tubular fossil known as a hyolith. This fossil is from the lockbox collection.
Anomolarcaris claw - from the lockbox collection.
Anomalorcaris claw – from the lockbox collection.
Feeding traces - from the talus slope near the lockbox.
Feeding traces – from the talus slope near the lockbox.

Canadian Rockies AWG Field Trip – A Summary

The AWG 2014 Canadian Rockies Field Trip took place from August 28 to September 7, 2014, with a Calgary-area geology pre-trip for early arrivals on August 27.  The main part of the field trip commenced with a mid-morning departure on the 28th from Calgary, and we all headed west along Canada Highway 1 to Lake Louise. After spending two days in the Lake Louise area, we drove north to the Columbia Icefields. A few of us continued further north the next day, on an side trip to Jasper. From the Icefields we toured south to Field, British Columbia, over to Revelstoke, and ended our British Columbia time in Fernie. We then drove east, back into Alberta, and spent time at Dinosaur Provincial Park near Brooks and at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller. The trip ended with our group once more back in Calgary, Alberta.

There were 22 people as full-time field-trippers and two more people on the trip during the Icefields to Field, B.C. part of the trip. Two of the full-time trip participants were students and one of the additional, part-time trip participants, was a student. All of the students on the field trip are from Mount Royal University in Calgary and are students of our field trip leader, Katherine Boggs. Paul Hoffman and Mindy Brugman also helped out for a day or so during the trip. Marcia Knadle and Debra Hanneman did the trip budget and logistics. We had a great field trip guidebook, thanks largely to Katherine Boggs’ efforts. The field trip guidebook, “Tectonics, Climate Change, and Evolution: Southern Canadian Cordillera” will be on sale at the AWG online store soon.

Some of us took to the water and canoed around Moraine Lake near Lake Louise, Alberta. Moraine Lake is located within the valley known as the “Valley of the Ten Peaks” which was once featured on the Canadian twenty dollar bill.
Some of us took to the water and canoed around Moraine Lake near Lake Louise, Alberta. Moraine Lake is located within the valley known as the “Valley of the Ten Peaks” which was once featured on the Canadian twenty dollar bill.
Katherine Boggs talks to the field trip crew about area geology at a stop along the Icefields Parkway in Alberta.
Katherine Boggs talks to the field trip crew about area geology at a stop along the Icefields Parkway in Alberta.
Our intrepid field crew hikes the Athabasca Glacier, one of the six major glaciers of the Columbia Icefield.
Our intrepid field crew hikes the Athabasca Glacier, one of the six major glaciers of the Columbia Icefield.
Paul Hoffman explains features of the Neoproterozoic Old Fort Point Formation near Jasper, Alberta.
Paul Hoffman explains features of the Neoproterozoic Old Fort Point Formation near Jasper, Alberta.
Some of the field trip group took the arduous hike up to the famous Walcott Quarry that is developed within the Cambrian Burgess Shale near Field, British Columbia.
Some of the field trip group took the arduous hike up to the famous Walcott Quarry that is developed within the Cambrian Burgess Shale near Field, British Columbia.
A member of our field trip group shows us one of the Burgess Shale’s trilobites from the Walcott Quarry.
A member of our field trip group shows us one of the Burgess Shale’s trilobites while at the Walcott Quarry.
One of the trip’s frequent rainy days – but we still had fun by the Kicking Horse River at its confluence with the Columbia River, near Golden, British Columbia.
One of the trip’s frequent rainy days – but we still had fun by the Kicking Horse River at its confluence with the Columbia River, near Golden, British Columbia.
Our field trip group poses by Columbia Lake, which forms the headwaters for both the Columbia and Kootenay rivers, and lies within the enigmatic Rocky Mountain Trench near Canal Flats, British Columbia.
Our field trip group poses by Columbia Lake, which forms the headwaters for both the Columbia and Kootenay rivers, and lies within the enigmatic Rocky Mountain Trench near Canal Flats, British Columbia.
The Frank Slide was a must-stop as we drove along the Crowsnest Highway near Blairmore, Alberta. The slide happened on April 29, 1903, when about 82 million tons of limestone fell off of Turtle Mountain.
The Frank Slide was a must-stop as we drove along the Crowsnest Highway near Blairmore, Alberta. The slide happened on April 29, 1903, when about 82 million tons of limestone fell off of Turtle Mountain.
Part of our field trip group discusses Centrosaur Bone Bed 43 during our guided hike at Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta.
Part of our field trip group discusses Centrosaur Bone Bed 43 during our guided hike at Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta.

Notes From the Field – The Rest of the 2014 AWG Geology Field Trip

The 2014 AWG Canadian Rockies Geology Field Trip did actually end last Sunday (9/7) and we did indeed make it back to Calgary largely unscathed. As many of you probably know, when lodging amenities state that WiFi is included, it most likely means that one can check email – not post blogs with photos of any size, or maybe not even post blogs without photos. Anyways, we did run out of somewhat viable WiFi in our remaining travels. So – this blog is a brief summary of what other adventures awaited us on the road from Revelstoke, B.C. to Fernie, B.C., and then eastward to Dinosaur Provincial Park near Brooks, Alberta, and finally to the amazing Royal Tyrrell Museum at Drumheller, Alberta.

Dutch Creek Hoodoos at mouth of Dutch Creek along Highway 93/95 south to Cranbrook, B.C.. The hoodoos are calcite-cemented Quaternary deltaic foresets deposited at edge of Glacial Lake Invermere.
Dutch Creek Hoodoos at mouth of Dutch Creek along Highway 93/95 south to Cranbrook, B.C.. The hoodoos are calcite-cemented Quaternary deltaic foresets deposited at edge of Glacial Lake Invermere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View southeastward of the Rocky Mountain Trench along Highway 93/95 South where Columbia Lake forms the headwaters to both the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers.
View southeastward of the Rocky Mountain Trench along Highway 93/95 South where Columbia Lake forms the headwaters to both the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers.

 

The Three Sisters as viewed from Fernie, B.C.. All the rock units are upside down, with the Devonian Palliser Formation comprising the top of the far left "sister" and the Mississippian Rundle Formation overlying the Triassic Spray River Group (in the lower right of photo and occurring mostly in tree-covered slopes) via the Hosmer Thrust.
The Three Sisters as viewed from Fernie, B.C.. All the rock units are upside down, with the Devonian Palliser Formation comprising the top of the far left “sister” and the Mississippian Rundle Formation overlying the Triassic Spray River Group (in the lower right of photo and occurring mostly in tree-covered slopes) via the Hosmer Thrust.

 

The Frank Slide, located east of the towns of Coleman and Blairmore, Alberta, in the Crowsnest Pass area. The slide occurred on 4/29/1903. when 82 million tons of limestone fell off Turtle Mountain, burying part of the town of Frank, Alberta.
The Frank Slide, located east of the towns of Coleman and Blairmore, Alberta, in the Crowsnest Pass area. The slide occurred on 4/29/1903. when 82 million tons of limestone fell off Turtle Mountain, burying part of the town of Frank, Alberta.

 

Dinosaur Provincial Park near Brooks, Alberta - the darker colored unit, the Dinosaur Park Formation sits atop the lighter colored, Oldman Formation. Both units are placed within the Cretaceous (Campanian) Belly River Group.
Dinosaur Provincial Park near Brooks, Alberta – the darker colored unit, the Dinosaur Park Formation sits atop the lighter colored, Oldman Formation. Both units are placed within the Cretaceous (Campanian) Belly River Group.

 

Centrosaur bone bed located near the central part of Dinosaur Provincial Park. Our group had an amazing guided tour to this bone bed which occurs in the Dinosaur Park Formation.
Centrosaur bone bed located near the central part of Dinosaur Provincial Park. Our group had an amazing guided tour to this bone bed which occurs in the Dinosaur Park Formation.

 

Finally - the Royal Tyrrell Museum at Drumheller, Alberta. The museum has fantastic displays, and of course I spent much time in their Burgess Shale faunal reconstruction display!
Finally – the Royal Tyrrell Museum at Drumheller, Alberta. The museum has fantastic displays, and of course I spent much time in their Burgess Shale faunal reconstruction display!

 

AWG 2014 Canadian Rockies Geology Field Trip Gears Up

Castle Mountain (Canadian Main Ranges) and Bow River, Banff National Park, Alberta, by Ben Rye.
Castle Mountain (Canadian Main Ranges) and Bow River, Banff National Park, Alberta, by Ben Rye.

The Association for Women Geoscientists’ 2014 Canadian Rockies geology field trip is fast approaching. The trip starts and ends in Calgary, and runs from August 28th through September 7th, with pre-trip hikes around the Calgary area on August 27th. Because the trip geology will be so spectacular and many people wanted to go, but just did not have the available time to do so, we decided that we will do blog postings during the trip whenever we have access to wifi (which should be most of the field trip nights). And – if anyone is really interested in the trip after following our travels, the field guidebook will be on sale at the AWG Online store after the trip.

To better follow our postings, I thought it would be helpful to give a brief run-down of the trip itinerary so that everyone knows what to expect for our travels:

August 27thFish Creek Park in Calgary – looking at the 2005 and 2013 Calgary flood features and constraining the boundary between the Laurentian and Cordilleran Ice Sheets.

August 28th and 29th – Trans-Canada Highway to Lake Louise for classic transect through Foothills to Main Ranges of Foreland Fold and Thrust Belt.

August 30th and August 31st – Icefields Parkway: Peyto Lake, Saskatchewan Glacier, Athabasca Glacier stops just to name a few. We also will have Paul Hoffman with us, so we will have good discussions on topics like “snowball earth”.

September 1st – Field, B.C. area with Burgess Shale Hike or other options such as Iceline Trail hike,Takakkaw Falls.

September 2nd  and 3rd – Revelstoke – Rocky Mountain Trench to Omineca Crystalline Belt, Roger’s Pass, Illicillewaet Glacier hike.

September 4th – Rocky Mountain Trench to Fernie – Windermere Supergroup (Rodinia breakup, turbidites discussions).

September 5thCrowsnest Pass to Dinosaur Provincial Park (Crowsnest duplexes & Lewis Thrust; Crowsnest Volcanics; Frank Slide).

September 6thDinosaur Provincial Park: hiking in the Badlands and guided tour of DPP bone beds.

September 7th – Dinosaur Provincial Park to Tyrrell Museum at Drumheller and return to Calgary.

2014 AWG Canadian Rockies Geology Field Trip – Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for the Association for Women (AWG) Geoscientists 2014 Canadian Rockies Geology Field Trip. All registration information and associated forms are posted on the AWG website at: AWG 2014 Field Trip. 

Castle Mountain (Canadian Main Ranges) and Bow River, Banff National Park, Alberta, by Ben Rye.
Castle Mountain (Canadian Main Ranges) and Bow River, Banff National Park, Alberta, by Ben Rye.

The AWG 2014 Canadian Rockies field trip is scheduled for August 28 to September 7, 2014, and will be the field trip of a lifetime! The field trip begins and ends in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

There are two trip options available:

  • The 9-day main trip itinerary includes a classic geological transect through the Canadian Foothills to Main Ranges of the Foreland Fold and Thrust Belt, the geology of the Columbia Icefields Parkway, the Rocky Mountain Trench, and Crowsnest Pass areas, and a hike to the Burgess Shale.
  • An optional 2-day trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park and to the Royal Tyrrell Museum can be added on to the end of the main field trip.

The trip itinerary includes:

  • A classic geological transect through the Canadian Foothills to the Main Ranges of Foreland Fold and Thrust Belt via the Trans Canada Highway from Calgary, Alberta to the Icefields Parkway, Alberta
  • Columbia Icefields Parkway Geology
  • Burgess Shale Hike or less strenuous geotourism options such as Takkakaw Falls, Natural Bridge, and Emerald Lake in the Field, B.C. area
  • Columbia, Athabasca, and Saskatchewan rivers’ headwaters and Revelstoke Dam visits
  • Rocky Mountain Trench Geology: Omineca Crystalline Belt, Windermere Supergroup,  Illecillewaet Glacier in the Field, Revelstoke, Golden, & Fernie, B.C. areas
  • Crowsnest Pass Geology: Duplexes & Lewis Thrust, Crowsnest Volcanics, Frank Slide (Crowsnest Pass, B.C./Alberta area)
  • Dinosaur Provincial Park and Royal Tyrell Museum explorations in the Brooks and Drumheller, Alberta areas. This part of the field trip is an optional 2-day addition to the end of the main trip

The field trip leaders are:

  • Katherine Boggs, Department of Geology, Mount Royal College, Calgary, Alberta Canada
  • Mindy Brugman, PhD, Geological and Planetary Sciences – Cal Tech

Field trip costs and payment information:

The field trip base fee is US$1700/person for the full 11-day field trip and US$1400/person for the 9-day field trip without the Dinosaur Provincial Park/Tyrrell Museum option. A deposit of US$200 for AWG members/US$300 for non-members to AWG will be due by April 1, 2014, and is non-refundable after April 1. The remaining balance of the field trip fee is due by June 30, 2014, and is non-refundable after June 30.