Hickson promotes Geopark status for Wells Gray

What is really unique about the park is that the volcanoes preserve evidence of several of the Ice Ages

  • Jun. 4, 2014 9:00 a.m.

Wells Gray Park has a unique geological history that deserves designation as a UNESCO Geopark and even a World Heritage Site, according to Dr. Cathie Hickson.

Some of the most valuable geological sites are located just outside the park in what Hickson calls the Three Gorges area – First, Second and Third canyons. Any logging there needs to take into consideration geological, tourism and other values, she feels.

Those two points seemed to be the gist of a presentation Hickson made Saturday evening, May 31, as the windup of re-opening celebrations at the Wells Gray Infocenter.

Hickson started doing research in Wells Gray Park in 1981 and did her Ph.D. thesis on the volcanoes in the park.

What is really unique about the park is that the volcanoes preserve evidence of several of the Ice Ages that have occurred during the past few million years.

Geologists know that there have been several glaciations but most of the evidence comes from cores taken from under the ocean.

On land, each succeeding glacial period has destroyed the evidence for the previous ones – except in Wells Gray Park and a few other places.

“I call Wells Gray Fire and Ice,” she said. “Few other places in the world have its combination of glaciers and volcanoes in its history.”

The park has a 3 million year history of volcanism. There are 22 identified volcanic vents, many of which developed under glaciers.

The extensive lava flows have resulted in the many waterfalls that Wells Gray is famous for.

Vulcanism and glaciation combined to create the extreme topography of the park

The Three Gorges area – First, Second and Third canyons – should have a network of trails so people can visit the various volcanic features within it, Hickson felt.

Buck Hill is a small volcanic cone that erupted near the end of the last Ice Age.

 

The flat area that is sits on, which Hickson referred to as Sheep Track Bench, was formed by lava being stopped by a glacier in the Clearwater River valley.