Geology Class 001 – a Cram Course in Basic Geology
Geology is the study of rocks and soil. Aside from farmers, the first people who really needed to understand the geological relationships between different rock types were miners. They eventually realized that rocks developed or were laid down in layers (or strata) and that the oldest rocks were there first and are in the deepest layer. Besides this, they learned that natural geological processes were fairly uniform in frequency and size throughout time, allowing them to recognize rock pattern successions, or geologic periods.
Over the years, divisions of geologic time have been described. The largest time units are called Eons, consisting of the Precambrian Eon and Phanerozoic Eon. The geology of Saskatchewan conveniently displays rock from both, with the entire northern third of the province being part of the Canadian Precambrian Shield. We assume that during the Precambrian Eon algae, fungi and single-celled creatures developed, as few fossils exist.
In the southern two thirds of the Province the Precambrian rock is covered with flat lying sedimentary rocks that have been deposited in what is known as the Phanerozoic Basin.
The Phanerozoic Eon represents the time during which the majority of visible organisms – at least those with shells and skeletons -- lived. It covers the last 543 million years of time and has been divided into three Eras; the Paleozoic Era, the Mesozoic Era and the Cenozoic Era, from oldest to youngest. (“Paleo” meaning ancient, “Meso” meaning middle and “Cen” meaning recent) while the “zoic” part comes from the root word “zoo”, which means animal. The Paleozoic Era has been called the “age of fishes”, the Mesozoic Era – “the age of Dinosaurs” and the Cenozoic “the age of mammals” although there is considerable overlapping of species between them, i.e. some ancient forms live even today.
The Cenozoic (most recent) Era is divided into the Tertiary Period and the Quaternary Period. The Cenozoic Era consists mostly of the Tertiary Period, from 65 million to 1.8 million years ago. The Quaternary Period is from 1.8 million years ago until today and is divided into two Epochs: the Pleistocene Epoch, or age of glaciation, and the Holocene Epoch, which is the last 10,000 year post-glacial epoch in which we live.
Having escaped glaciation, the geology of the Rockglen Region encompasses a treasure trove of artifacts from the late Tertiary Period through the entire Quaternary Period, containing potential mining sites for coal, bentonite, kaolinitic and ceramic clays. In the past, placer gold had been found here near Fife Lake and Kimberlite and Garnet indicate possible Diamond potential, which is currently being actively explored near Lisieux. Ravenscrag gravel pits and badland escarpments lay it all open to you in the Rockglen Region … it’s a Geologist’s dream!