Three Worlds

August 01, 2006

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Provided by: John A. Adam, Old Dominion University
Summary authors & editors: John A. Adam

This intriguing shot was taken from the edge of Lake Louise, in Banff National Park, Alberta, in mid May 2006. I call it “Three worlds” because it reminded me of the drawing of the same name by the Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher (1898-1972). The ice on the lake was in the process of melting, and the still water surface in the foreground reflected one of the mountains at the far end of the lake, yet the water was clear enough to see the rocks and boulders on the bottom of the lake very clearly. Not apparent in this picture is the turquoise color of Lake Louise (and many of the other lakes in Banff National Park), caused by so-called rock flour or glacial run-off in suspension in the water. It consists of clay-sized particles of rock, generated here by glacial erosion. Because the rock flour is very small, it's suspended in river water making the water appear cloudy. If the river flows into a glacial lake, the lake may appear turquoise in color as a result. Rock flour is also produced by freeze thaw, where the act of water freezing and expanding in cracks helps break up rock formations.

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