The East Kootenay’s story, told through its rocks

Geologist presenting on East Kootenay geology and mining heritage the Royal Alexandra Hall, May 23

A geologist whose career has taken her around the world is give a presentation on East Kootenay geology and mining heritage on May 23 at the Royal Alexandra Hall in Cranbrook.

Rohanna Gibson, a geologist by trade and mountain-lover at heart, as she describes herself, has worked around the world, from the Himalayas to the Arctic tundra.

After moving to the East Kootenay, Gibson became intrigued in the stories of the rocks that formed the mountains and the miners that worked them.

The wealth of mining history and how it shaped the early development of the region enriches her exploration of the Kootenays, and she is sharing this experience in presentations she has given over the past couple of weeks in Kimberley, Creston, Fernie, and Invermere.

The history of the east Kootenays was sculpted by prospectors, miners, and fortune seekers chasing deposits of metal and coal that formed through a rich geologic history. This project shares these geologic and mining history stories with public presentations.

he public presentation will introduce regional geology, place regional mining history in a historical context, and share stories of mining in the region.

“I was fascinated as I began uncovering the stories of the Sullivan and other mines of the East Kootenays,” Gibson wrote on her website. “I imagined prospectors hiking the hills and building their fortune as mines grew along the newly-constructed Crowsnest railway. And the earlier mining days, when folks came via foot and horseback to pan for gold in the mountains streams.

“Of course, as a geologist I realize that mining history goes further back than that. Approximately 1,400,000,000 years back in the case of the Sullivan! The earth history in the region covers a billion and a half years from the ocean floor where metal deposits formed in the rocks, only to sit covered for millions of years until the Rocky and Purcell Mountains were squished up into the spectacular peaks we enjoy today.

“And these factors combined – the formation of metal deposits, the building and shaping of the mountains that exposed them, the societal hunger to discover new resources in this relatively undeveloped corner of the world – set the stage for the culture and communities that exist in the east Kootenays today.

“Sounds like a good story. So why not tell it?”

This project brings free presentations on the geologic and mining history of the East Kootenaysto the region. Rocks that formed over the last hundreds of millions of years contain valuable minerals such as gold, silver, lead, and coal. Historic mining of these minerals sculpted the history and culture of the East Kootenay, and modern mining continues to define the economic and social landscape. This project aims to teach people why mining happens here, explore the impacts of mining, and discuss what mining means to the east Kootenays.

Rohanna Gibson’s presentation on East Kootenay geology and mining heritage takes place May 23 at 7 pm at the Royal Alexandra Hall in the Cranbrook History Centre.

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