Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Monday, 25 June 2012

FOSSILS AND RED OCHRE


Around 45-50 million years ago, during the middle Eocene, a number of freshwater lakes appeared in an arc extending from Smithers in northern British Columbia, south through the modern Cariboo, to Kamloops, the Nicola Valley, Princeton and finally, Republic, WA.

The lakes likely formed after a period of faulting created depressions in the ground, producing a number of basins or grabens into which water collected - imagine gorgeous smallish lakes similar to Cultus Lake near Chiliwack, British Columbia.

The groaning Earth, pressured by the collision of tectonic plates producted a series of erupting volcanoes around the Pacific Northwest. These spouting volcanoes blew fine-grained ash into the atmosphere and it rained down on the land. The ash washed into the lakes and because of its texture, and possibly because of low water oxygen levels on the bottoms that slowed decay beautifully preserved the dead remains of plant, invertebrate, and fish fossils - some in wonderful detail.

In and around the town of Princeton, there are many places to collect. The fossils you find here are all middle Eocene, Allenby Formation and most have a high degree of detail in their preservation.

A crack of the hammer yields fossil maple, alder, fir, pine, dawn redwood and ginko fossil material. Several species of fossilized insects can be found in the area and rare, occasional fossil flowers and small, perfectly preserved fish. It is also home to one of the world's oldest bee's - a find by Rene Saveneye - naturalist and keen paleo hunter who will be much missed.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

LOVE YOUR WORLD. BE IDLE FREE

When we are out enjoying the gorgeous wilderness that surrounds us, we think more about air quality and how amazing our world really it. When we get back to the city, we sometimes forget the little things we can do to help protect our air and water quality.

I met two enthusiastic environmentalist today, Megan and Eric, who would like us to take up a couple of easy habits to do our part. They are raising awareness around greenhouse gas emissions and what you can do to make a difference. Idling your engine for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel and causes more emissions that turning it off entirely and restarting it.

So, what can you do? Turn off your vehicle while waiting at train crossings, schools, drive-thrus, community centres and other places you may need to wait in the car. They recommend you drive your vehicle to warm it up rather than idling the engine and telling others to stop their engine, helping them save money and protect the environment.

If you have trouble remembering, keep a delicious bar of dark chocolate on hand at all times and a small post-it note that reads, "turn off your car and indulge yourself." Eating antioxidant-rich chocolate is good for your brain and will help you save the environment. Make your own commitment to be healthy, green and idle free!

For more information visit tol.bc.ca/idlefree

Sunday, 3 June 2012

POND SCUM... AND OTHER HOT SPRING BEAUTIES


Slimeball, a derogative term to be sure from the modern usage, but before it was ever dragged down to the world of insults and verbal nastiness we know it for today, the scum of which we speak and the small bacteria that form them were simply the catalysts for the many beautiful colours we see in hot springs.

While a whole host of thermophilic (heat-loving) microorganisms are responsible, it is the cyanobacteria, one of the more common fellows from this group, which form most of the scum. Cyanobacteria grow together in huge colonies (bacterial mats) that form the delightfully colourful scums and slimes on the sides of hot springs.

You can tell a fair bit about the water temperature and chemistry by just looking at the colour of the pools… as cyanobacteria, while not considered picky pool dwellers, do prefer one pool to another. So, the next time you hear someone fling this insult your way, stop and tell them how attractive scum make this world.