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The other hot springs in the Banff area are the Cave and Basin system. To enter the interpretive centre will require a small payment (at the time of writing it was $4.00.) This earthcache is designed so that one can complete it without having to actually go into the centre. PLEASE STAY ON THE TRAILS. Not only is the area environmentally sensitive, but it is also home to the endangered Banff Springs Snail.
In 1883, these springs were discovered by three workers from the CP Rail line. They found an underground system, as well as the above ground streams. Their discovery led to the establishment of the first ever National Park of Canada.
The hot springs are created by water flowing down through underground reservoirs that flow 2 kms underground, close to the hot core of the planet. Like the other hot springs in the area, this water moves upwards along the Sulphur Mountain Fault line, cooling as it emerges from such intense pressure. It carries with it a slight radioactivity, and other minerals.
There are multiple sites to visit along this tour:
The Basin: N51 10.126 W115 35.480
This is the main location for the original bathing area of Banff. This water is supplied by an underground hot spring. The Banff Springs Snail lives in this pool, and is one of the main reasons that this bathhouse isn’t used anymore. From here, look down and see the crystal clarity of the water.
The Vent: N51 10.127 W115 35.443
This is the first location from which the hot springs were accessed. This is the top of the grotto in which the pool is located. It is now cordoned off by a large iron grate, as you can see in the photo, but one can smell the chemical in the air.
The Pool: N51 10.113 W115 35.453
The hot springs streams flow down the hill here and collect in this pool. Some interesting flora can be seen in this pool, and the smell is tolerable from here. Be sure to see the algae that live in the water, it may not look appetizing, but it’s got some gorgeous colours.
The Spring: N51 10.088 W115 35.430
Following up the path, it ends at the spring itself. Hold your breath and go take a look at it, and you will see why you have to hold your breath. The chemical responsible bubbles up from beneath the surface of the water. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH ANY OF THIS WATER. According to the Species at Risk Analysis, even a hand dipped in the water that has come into contact with mosquito repellent can cause havoc on the environment of the Banff Springs Snail.
To log this cache:
1) On the interpretive signs in the area, there is a mention of the chemical responsible for the charming smell. What chemical is this?
2) These waters are radioactive. According to the signs, what is the level of radiation comparable to?
3) The hot springs are bringing up a mineral that creates another form of rock to be deposited in the area. What kind of rock is this called?
4) Please feel free to post a photo of yourself and/or your GPSr.
(No hints available.)