ROCKS, RIDGES AND RIVERS: GEOLOGICAL WONDERS OF BANFF, YOHO, AND JASPER NATIONAL PARKS
Dale A. Leckie, University of Calgary, Department of Geoscience
Banff, Yoho, and Jasper National Parks form part of the UNESCO Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. They are described by UNESCO as characterized by “rugged mountain peaks, ice fields and glaciers, alpine meadows, lakes, waterfalls, extensive karst cave systems, and deeply incised canyons”. The mountain parks serve to “illustrate active glacial processes taking place along the Continental Divide, where erosion is happening in uplifted, folded, and faulted sedimentary rocks”.
The rocks that make up the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site west of Calgary and north to Jasper are a complex intermix of sedimentary types that were deposited as the North American craton wandered about the world for more than 600 million years. The sediments contain evidence of warm shallow-water carbonates deposited close to and south of the equator, deep-water submarine canyons that carried sand and gravel away from ancestral North America long before there was any life on land, and 600- to 700-million-year-old glacial deposits from when Earth nearly froze solid during a period called the Cryogenian. There were also periods when hot, dry desert and sabkha conditions prevailed. About 500 million years ago, Earth saw a population explosion of numerous life forms that are now preserved in Yoho’s Burgess Shale; these organisms were predecessors to many species that exist today. And then, only 2.6 million years ago – really, in the recent past – glaciers covered the landscape again sculpting it into the landforms that you see today. This is only part of what you observe when you visit Canada’s Rocky National Parks.
Dale Leckie has a Ph.D. Geology) from McMaster University, a M.Sc. (Geography) from McMaster University and B.Sc. (Geography) from University of Alberta. Dale worked as a scientist at the Geological Survey of Canada and as chief geologist at Nexen. Dale has written papers on the geological setting of the diamonds in North Central Saskatchewan, drilled kimberlites northern Alberta and written about placer gold in the Cretaceous of southern Alberta. He has edited numerous books and published widely. He is an adjunct professor in the Geoscience Department at University of Calgary. Dale has been president of the Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM) and Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists (CSPG). Dale is well recognized for his long-term contributions to geology and is an honorary member of SEPM and CSPG.