Water’s Changing Landscape

Moeraki Boulder.JPG

I grew up near Niagara Falls, it’s one of my favourite places; to hear the roar of the falls, to see it rushing down the river and to wonder where those droplets have been. I’ve always had a fascination with the power of water, its ability to give life and sustain living things, but also it’s ability to cause destruction and change landscapes in it’s wake. But what interests me most about water is what it leaves behind, the clues about the history of the Earth and the formations its sculpted over time.

In 2015, I spent a month backpacking around the South Island of New Zealand, hiking and camping across these incredible landscapes while meeting people from all over the world. One of my friends spoke about these huge, round stones on a beach not too far from where we were, the Moeraki Boulders. Ranging from 1.5-2 meters in diameter they were created on the seafloor by cemented layers of marine mudstone during the Paleoscene era. We went over to Koekohe Beach where I was in awe of these scattered clusters of boulders, the largest of which having taken 4 to 5.5 million years to form. The Moeraki Boulders were built on the seafloor, hidden in the mudstone creation of the cliffs and revealed once again by the oceans waves eroding at the shore.

On the South Island of New Zealand, along the North Otago coast, you can find the Moeraki Boulders.

A year prior, in 2014, I visited the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. I was amazed at the groups of towering basalt column’s along the coast line seeming to recede into the sea. People walked across the shorter groupings, hopping from one column to the next just out of reach from the spray of the north Atlantic. Originally formed by the remains of a deep lava flow, it was a combination of the geology and much colder sea that contributed to this unique formation. Made up of 40000 plus columns, there are three causeways that extend into the sea, all formed between 66 to 100 million years ago. I thought it resembled a city of stone pillars residing on the edge of the water, only allowing the sea to form small pools between and on top of them. Standing on the Giant’s Causeway it felt like the salty Atlantic was inviting us, just continue in once the column steps end and the water takes over. 

Giants Causeway.jpg

At the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland, I can’t help but wonder how far out these patterns of basalt columns reach.

This year, 2020, I’ve found myself most frequently wandering among the trees in Southern Ontario. I choose trails along moraines or following dried up river beds, and I think of the glaciers that retreated from here thousands of years ago. I can see the cracks in the limestone bedrock leading to caves below the surface, remnants of glacial erosion and the weight of kilometer thick ice. My favourite feature left behind? Kettles or rockmills, they’re symmetrical or whimsical looking potholes in the rock, carved through limestone in the ancient river currents by granite stones spinning in place. Though that water doesn’t run here anymore, I think of the glaciers that do remain on our Earth and how quickly they’ve been melting. 

Visiting my favourite kettle in Warsaw Caves Conservation Area, Ontario.

This year, 2020, I’ve found myself most frequently wandering among the trees in Southern Ontario. I choose trails along moraines or following dried up river beds, and I think of the glaciers that retreated from here thousands of years ago. I can see the cracks in the limestone bedrock leading to caves below the surface, remnants of glacial erosion and the weight of kilometer thick ice. My favourite feature left behind? Kettles or rockmills, they’re symmetrical or whimsical looking potholes in the rock, carved through limestone in the ancient river currents by granite stones spinning in place. Though that water doesn’t run here anymore, I think of the glaciers that do remain on our Earth and how quickly they’ve been melting. 

An Ocean Storytelling Showcase submission by Helen Tintpulver