Mistaya Canyon Earthcache
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The Mistaya river originates in Peyto Lake, 30 km north of this spot near the Bow Summit. Mistaya originates from the Stoney word for "much wind." The river runs through the valley and a series of long narrow lakes including Mistaya Lake and Waterfowl Lake.
The vast majority of the valley in which it the river flows has been cut by a glacier like all the other valleys in Banff National Park, but water is starting to do it's work as well. The river has cut a very narrow and very curvy slot canyon through the limestone in this spot.
The path to the canyon is an easy 500m hike to a bridge that crosses over the very narrow slot canyon. Park at the Mistaya Canyon and Howse Pass parking area on west side of the Icefields Parkway. The trail leaves from the north end of the parking area.
To log a find on this earthcache, you will need to make some estimates regarding the size of this canyon and then make some mathematical calculations regarding your observations to learn about erosion rates. There are no signs to give you the answers and I'm asking you to make your best guesses as to the size of the features. Email answers for the following steps to me (do not post your answers in your log):
1) Estimate the depth (in meters) of the canyon at the bridge.
2) How many times does the water channel curve between the place where the water is at the level of the surrounding banks and the place where it crosses under the bridge. Offer suggestions as to why you think this happens.
3) Wander along the trail upstream from the bridge. Please do not go near the river itself, as it can be quite dangerous and the rocks can be very slippery or even icy at times. From the trail you can see places where there are gouges called potholes cut into the rock. What is the biggest one of these that you can see? Explain how you think the water managed to cut these depressions out.
4) Estimate the length (in meters) of the canyon (remember to include the curves) and the average width (in meters) of the canyon.
5) Using the values from (1) and (4), estimate the total volume of rock that has been eroded away by the river. The formula to use is:
Volume = 0.5 * (Length of Canyon) * (Average Width) * (Depth of Canyon at Bridge)
6) Assuming this entire canyon has been carved out over the last 10,000 years since the end of the ice age, how much volume is eroded away each year by the river in the canyon above the bridge?
Volume per year = Total Volume / 10000
7) The density of limestone is about 2500 kg/m3. How much mass (in kg) is eroded away each year?
Mass per year (in kg) = Volume per year * 2500 (kg/m3)
8) Finally, the average visit of a person to this scenic area is about 30 minutes long. How much mass (in grams) has been eroded away during your visit? Note that there are 525,600 minutes in a 365-day long year. For comparison sake, a Canadian $1 coin weighs 7 grams.
Mass in 30-minute visit (in g) = Mass per year (in kg) * 1000 (g/kg) * 30 min / 525,600 (min/yr)
9) While not required, posting a picture of you and your GPS at the canyon will help to prove that you were actually here!
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This earthcache placed with the permission of Parks Canada
(No hints available.)
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum