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Weather and the Niagara Escarpment


Staff writers
April 14, 2012 — The Niagara Escarpment is a forested ridge that spans more than 700 kilometres and is recognized worldwide as a natural wonder. But how does the weather affect it?


Water freezes in cracks in the rock and is gradually breaking apart the escarpment bit by bit
Water freezes in cracks in the rock and is gradually breaking apart the escarpment bit by bit

"Weather has shaped the Escarpment in a whole bunch of ways," explains Beth Kummling,Director of Bruce Trail Conservancy.

"One is just the simple action of rain water on the Escarpment. The dolostone rock is very susceptible to acid weathering," she says. "So what you get on the rocks are lots of pitting and crevices created just from the rainwater acting on the rock."

Kummling also says that water that gets into the rocks can freeze. ""As it freezes it expands and pushes the cracks in the rock apart," she says. "So you get this frost wedging affect that's actually breaking apart the escarpment gradually, bit by bit."

Another affect is caused by simple rainfall, which is slightly acidic, interacting with the rock which is slightly alkaline. Kummling says that causes erosion, acid weathering and pitting.

The Niagara Escarpment is home to many plants and animals, including several species at risk. It's also home to the Bruce Trail which is about 900 km of hiking from Niagara to Tobermory.

"The escarpment itself is being preserved by a number of public and private groups," says Kummling. "Just to make sure it's always here for us to enjoy."

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