Natural forces at work 

Dr. Bob Turner looks at the geological forces that shaped the landscape and endanger communities

What: The Whistler Naturalists Speaker Series

Who: Dr. Bob Turner: Sea to Sky Country – Living with mountains, earthquakes, landslides and floods

Where: Millennium Place

When: Wednesday, March 17, 7:30 p.m.

It’s been about 170,000 years since the volcano at Black Tusk last erupted and 10,000 years since the last glacial period filled the valley with ice, but the planet never really stops changing.

Natural forces, such as earthquakes, landslides and floods are always happening as weather patterns change, erosion reshapes the landscape and the tectonic plates on which the continents sit continue to shift. Humans also contribute to these events through climate change, landscaping, water diversion, road building and other activities.

To ignore these forces is to court a disaster, according to Dr. Bob Turner, who will be at Millennium Place this Wednesday as part of the Whistler Naturalists Speaker Series.

Dr. Turner is a scientist with Natural Resources Canada as part of the Geological Survey of Canada. He recently co-authored a book with John Clague titled Vancouver: City on the Edge that examines the geological issues in the area, including earthquakes, landslides, floods and volcanic activity, as well as groundwater and surface water resources, energy supplies and mineral deposits. They also examine the issue of climate change, and the potential impacts on geological events.

Dr. Turner is very interested in healthy communities and in smart land use planning and leads a national outreach effort for Natural Resources Canada to make communities more aware of geoscience issues. He has produced a series of maps and resources at www.geoscape.nrcan.gc.ca and www.adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca.

His latest project is a series of community-based water science posters for his home community of Bowen Island, where he serves as a municipal councilor, and the surrounding Gulf Islands.

In 2002 Dr. Turner received the Neale Medal of the Geological Association of Canada.

Closer to Whistler, he has conducted research on the Squamish and Cheakamus River Valleys, gaining insight into the geological history of the area through floods and landslides. One topic of interest is the Barrier, a basalt rock formation that holds in Garibaldi Lake.

The next Whistler Naturalists speaker is scheduled for April 22. Kathy Martin will present Getting By or Flying High – The Challenges of being an Alpine Animal.

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