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Adventure for Wilderness – Ice, Glaciers, Gravel and Oil – Cochrane North Field Trip

May 25, 2024, 9 a.m.
Cochrane Ranche

This Saturday adventure, which begins in Cochrane, is a road trip where we will see various forms of magnificent glacial geology in the Cochrane North & Lochend areas.  This field trip will be led by Tako Koning, P.Geol., an experienced professional geologist.   We will drive through and stop at locations in the deeply incised glacial melt water channel which runs from Cochrane to Big Hill Springs Provincial Park and onwards into the northwest Lochend area. A similar melt water channel also occurs just south of the hamlet of Dog Pound.  Small creeks and ponds occur in these channels and provide habitat for abundant waterfowl.  We will also see areas covered by glacial moraines characterized by knob & kettle topography and glacial drumlins.

The glaciation resulted in deposits of thick gravels which are commercially valuable.  We will see two large active gravel mines including one just west of Bighill Springs Provincial Park. These gravel mines have significant environmental impact on the nearby area as well as affecting nearby local residents. Gerry Bietz and Vivian Pharis, directors on the board of the Bighill Creek Preservation Society will tell us of their efforts to protect this environmentally unique and fragile area.

We will also stop and discuss the numerous oilwell pads which produce oil from the tight Upper Cretaceous Cardium sandstone oil play. Long distance horizontal wells combined with hydraulic fracking have led to the success of this oil program. Drilling and oil production is now occurring in an area of approximately 200 square kilometers and in some cases has impacted on ranches, farms and acreages in the area.

Meeting Location: The parking lot at Cochrane Historical Ranche, on the north side of Bow Valley Trail/Highway 2A in Cochrane.

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