When you think of the city of Toronto, the first thing that usually comes to mind are enormous buildings and a vast urban landscape crowded with humanity. But this massive Canadian metropolis is blessed with some beautiful greenspace as well.
The Scarborogh Bluffs are an ancient land formation just outside of the city. The nearly ten mile long escarpment winds it's way along Lake Ontario and soars almost three hundred feet high in some areas.
It's a geological wonder unlike anything on the Great Lakes, a record of natural history that allows us to peer back into the eons.It's a document almost literally written in stone, etched by the movement of glaciers and the caress of Lake Ontario herself. Ed Freeman is a retired Geologist who knows the Bluffs well."
We have a rather interesting series of deposits here, on top of the rocky bedrock, we have a glacial deposit, then there's a series of inter-glacial deposits that formed between glaciers, and we know this by the flora and fauna within these forms."
"Ninety percent of the erosion is caused by the wave action hitting the bluffs and eroding the bottom and then the top falls down.' Adds Joe Delle Valle, of the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority." It's a continual process that's been happening for thousands of years."
Erosion is a powerful force of Nature.The action of Ontario's waves have changed the landscape immensely over the years. The bluffs once extended much further into the lake, and the evidence is still there. Freeman explains.
"There's a shelf there you can see in bathometric surveys, where it drops off, and that's roughly three quarters of a mile from here. So erosion over the last eight thousand years has worked that position back to the current shore bluffs.
In a classic geological case of addition by subtraction, sediment from the bluff's erosion went on to form a well known Toronto landmark." Over the years," says Delle Valle.
"There's a little drift here of sediment being transported, and a lot of the Toronto Island area, which is a big sand bar, was created from the erosion of the Scarborough Bluffs, and the transport of sand material from east to west."
The towering bluffs are not the only draw for nature lovers in Toronto. Lucille Yates is a Toronto resident that lives in one of the many neighborhoods along the Bluffs.
"We see lots of wildlife down here, all kinds of birds, there's a lot of different raptors, we see a lot of bird migration here, we see the Monarch Butterflies in the Fall, and the Blue Jays, hundreds of them going through at different times of the year.So it's a pretty incredible place to live and to visit."It may be one of the big city's best kept secrets, but for those who know it, the Scarborough Bluffs are an oasis in the midst of a concrete jungle." A lot of people in the city ," Says Delle Fave" You bring them down here and they say wow I never knew this place existed ! "
Yates agrees. " It is like a little piece of country, because you're in the middle of a huge city, and you have this quiet space where you don't even hear the city. It should be here for the future, for everybody, because it really is a spectacular thing."