Authored by Not Wanderlust’s head geologist: Evan Dismukes
Quartzite: metamorphosed sandstone.
Slate: metamorphosed shale.
Marble: metamorphosed limestone.
Igneous: volcanic in origin.
Metamorphic: altered in some way. Either by heat, pressure or deformation.
Burgess Shale: a rock layer famous for having some of the best preserved fossils in the world.
Travertine: type of limestone deposited by mineral springs.
Amphibolites: metamorphosed hornblende.
Now that we have reached the highest latitude for our trip, and witnessed Cat failing at using her SheWee for a second time, we begin our move east. We found out that Canada has it’s own Glacier National Park, traveled through the Canadian Rockies and returned to the U.S. despite our Border Patrol’s best efforts to deny natural born citizens access to their homeland.
We finally made it to Glacier, except we had no idea we arrived. Driving along the TransCanada Highway, you pass right through Glacier National Park and, since we didn’t see the sign, we didn’t notice any difference. The mountains along this highway are pretty much the same, but they’re all beautiful regardless. The mountains in western British Columbia are called the Selkirks, and are all heavily metamorphosed. The way I described metamorphosed rock to Cat was “see those sqwiggley lines in the rock? Yea that means mad stuff was going on, and it is super cool!” The “mad stuff” produces really cool structure and colors in the rock. The rocks that you see here are mostly quartzite, slate and marble, but there are also large limestone layers. These limestone layers get dissolved by flowing water and begin to form large cave systems in the area. Seeing as we didn’t go caving, we were unable to learn anything about the local cave snake population in the area.
As you continue east from Glacier, you leave the Selkirks and head into the Canadian Rockies. These are a continuation of the Rockies in the U.S. but with some differences. In Canada they are mostly made up of sedimentary rocks and have a history of being much more glaciated. The Rockies in the U.S. are mostly igneous, metamorphic and shaped more by rivers than glaciers. The Canadian Rockies also have a highway called the Powder Highway because of the unbelievable amounts of snow that area gets. So, if the French had their way you could be getting “tits deep” in the “Big Canadian Breasts.”
The part of the Canadian Rockies that we went there were Yoho and Banff National Parks. I list these together because in addition to their geology, they also share their border which is the Continental Divide (which doubles as the British Columbia/Alberta border). This is the heart of the Canadian Rockies, and, as I said earlier, this is mostly made up of sedimentary rocks and is heavily glaciated. In Yoho, there is an area with the Burgess Shale. This layer is one of the best places in the world to collect fossils. When this layer was forming, it was doing so in a way that preserved fossils more effectively than anywhere else.
After realizing that all U.S. Border Patrol people are unpleasant, we arrived at Glacier/Waterton Lakes National Park. This Glacier is the one you’re thinking of, and Waterton Lakes is the Canadian extension. This park is still a lot more like the Canadian Rockies than the U.S. Rockies in that it is mostly sedimentary rocks and has been carved out by glaciers more than rivers. What’s really cool is that the top layers of rock are much older than the bottom layers. After the newer rock was deposited, about 140 million years ago, older rock, about 1.5 billion years old, was thrusted up and over the newer rock from almost 50 miles away. However, this wasn’t interesting enough so we went in search of larger breasts.
Despite the lack of interesting female anatomy, we decided to make a stop in Yellowstone. If you remember from earlier, I mentioned that Yellowstone is a 7/7 on the volcano scale. The last time it erupted was around 640,000 years ago so we’re pretty okay for now, but when this place erupts, it explodes bigtime. The caldera of the volcano makes up about half of the park and formed the depression that is now called Yellowstone Lake. All the hot spring activity in the park is a result of water interacting with the magma chambers that still exist under the ground. The super-heated water reacts with the rock around it and picks up different minerals. As the water arrives at the surface it does many different things: it can be a steam vent, a geyser, a mud volcano or just a hot spring. When the water becomes one of these, the minerals it picked up along the way also effect what it looks like. For example, you can get wild colors at Prismatic Hot Springs, sulfur deposits around the park or massive travertine deposits like at Mammoth Hot Springs. You can also witness the Jerrys acting unsafely around thousand pound animals and boiling hot pools of water, all of which could easily end them.
With our arrival at the Grand Tetons, we reach the culmination of all my boob jokes courtesy of the French. The French originally named the mountains “The Three Teats” in French, making The Grand the biggest tit. The central Tetons are granite, but these formed as a massive intrusion into the older mountains. The original ones were made up of metamorphic gneiss, schist and amphibolites. These mountains got their shape by being carved out by glaciers, mainly the Yellowstone glacier. And if you visit these, you can confidently say they’re the biggest tits you’ve ever set foot on.
Now that I’m done talking about boobies, we begin to start heading east. We await seeing what the northern central states of the nation are like although we don’t expect anything more than just a colder Kansas. But who knows? Maybe I-90 will surprise us