Alberta's hidden valleys offer both resources and danger

Nov 12, 2009

Alberta is crisscrossed with hidden glacial valleys that hold both resource treasures and potential danger. University of Alberta researcher Doug Schmitt discovered a 300 metre deep, valley hidden beneath the surface of the ground near the community of Rainbow Lake in northwestern Alberta.

The valley was created by and over time filled with loose rock gradually disappearing from the landscape.

There had already been extensive underground mapping of the area, but Schmitt went beyond the standard practices to locate the valley. He combined a variety of the existing seismic and electrical mapping data and found the valley. It ranges between two and three kilometers in width.

If these hidden alleys go undetected by standard underground mapping practices there could be serious consequences. Schmitt says if a tailings pond were unknowingly put in an area like this and the liner failed, the effluent could spread far and wide, underground via the aquifer.

And then there's the issue of pockets of natural gas lying in the porous rock just metres beneath the surface. An energy exploration crew could trigger an explosion and fire. Schmitt says it's happened more than once in Alberta.

Schmitt says there are hidden valleys like his find near Rainbow Lake, all over Alberta.

Schmitt is Canada Research Chair in rock physics. Schmitt co authored a paper on the Rainbow Lake discovery. It was published by the Geological Society of America.

Source: University of Alberta (news : web)

Explore further: NASA sees intensifying typhoon Phanfone heading toward Japan

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Research discovers underground pockets of water, natural gas

Oct 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Look out below! That's the warning a University of Alberta geophysics researcher has for hydrocarbon and water drillers after discovering uncharted land forms beneath the surface of the province. Deep valleys, ...

Meteorite hits on Earth: There may be a recount

Nov 25, 2008

Meteorite craters might not be as rare as we think. A University of Alberta researcher has found a tool that could reveal possibly hundreds of undiscovered craters across Canada and around the world.

Dogs chase efficiently, but cats skulk counterintuitively

Dec 03, 2008

A Duke University study suggests that evolution can behave as differently as dogs and cats. While the dogs depend on an energy-efficient style of four-footed running over long distances to catch their prey, cats seem to have ...

Moondust and Duct Tape

Apr 22, 2008

At this year's Great Moonbuggy Race in Huntsville, Alabama, Prof. Paul Shiue of Christian Brothers University was overheard joking that duct tape was his team's "best engineering tool." Others felt the same ...

One-of-a-kind meteorite unveiled

Apr 22, 2006

The depths of space are much closer to home following the University of Alberta's acquisition of a meteorite that is the only one of its kind known to exist on Earth! What makes it so rare? The meteorite is 'pristine' – ...

Recommended for you

Sculpting tropical peaks

17 hours ago

Tropical mountain ranges erode quickly, as heavy year-round rains feed raging rivers and trigger huge, fast-moving landslides. Rapid erosion produces rugged terrain, with steep rivers running through deep ...

Volcano expert comments on Japan eruption

18 hours ago

Loÿc Vanderkluysen, PhD, who recently joined Drexel as an assistant professor in Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science in the College of Arts and Sciences, returned Friday from fieldwork ...

User comments : 0