Video: Unpacking the Geological History of Squamish Through Mountain Biking

Jul 29, 2020
by Will Morris  



As mountain bikers, we directly interact with diverse geologic and biologic surfaces more than nearly any other sport. Focusing on just the geologic material presented on Squamish’s trails, we can construct a complete picture of the region’s formation. The film below explores this concept, using mountain bikes as a tool to discover the incredibly varied geologic processes and events that sculpted the terrain we ride today.

Keenan and Will riding on the glacial till and metamorphic bedrock of lower Meadow of the Grizzly.

Keenan floating over the granodiorite pluton that forms the iconic slab trails of the Alice Lake trail system.

Glaciovolcanic sediments and boulders form Slippery Salmon and the adjacent trails in Alice Lake.

Bryce and Micah riding glacially-sculpted slabs.

Evidence of glaciation visible on today's trails. In the left image the surface of the rock has been polished almost completely smooth by ice. The semi-circular scars in the right photo were formed by rocks dragged across the granodiorite by a glacier.

These images illustrate the maximum thickness of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet. All material below approximately 2000m has been rounded by glaciers while the peaks that were above the ice sheet are jagged and pointed.

Keenan carving the glacial till of Pseudo Tsuga.



34 Comments

  • 27 1
 Sigh, 500 comments on Pinkbike for the release of a new brake caliper but nothing on something you might actually learn from.
  • 11 0
 Speaking as an engineering geologist, I am happy to write 499 random comments to redress this. Rocks rock
  • 2 0
 Agreed. This is really great content. Improving the knowledge of the riders and trail-builders will grow both a respect for the land we ride on and a greater ability to use it appropriately for recreation. Thanks for education!
  • 8 0
 So sick Will well done!! I always thought this would be a great link to demonstrate the local geo! Pamplemousse was a super cool to see as I went the first half is diorite then you hit the flow half way down just at the bottom of the chute and it turns abruptly. The trail gap is on a volcanic boulder. Way easier to build with the angular granite up top. The pyroclastic flow from round mtn that makes all the locally known “pudding stone” on 19th hole and grizzly meadow also super interesting. Such a uniform slope never allowed soil to build up. It’s about 1m or less below surface everywhere up there. Hence the challenging machine work with griz meadow. Stoked you did this!
  • 9 0
 This rocked
  • 6 0
 SCIENCE! This was fantastic, very well put together and a great way to look at the world we ride.
  • 5 0
 Great Job Will!
You need to get this vid to all those boring Geography/Geology University professors.
I wish they would have showed this during my Geomorphology classes!
  • 3 0
 Nice job Will! Great production and content. I absolutely loved the hand-drawn animation of plate tectonics and pluton formation. You did a great job of explaining stuff in enough detail for us rock nerds while keeping in simple enough for everyone else. Also, great riding. Super stoked on this!
  • 3 0
 Super interesting, thanks for putting this together. There is so much potential to create all kinds of content to learn about the places we ride, and the lands history, natural communities, and all that hippie-nature stuff.
  • 3 0
 This is an awesome bit of work. There's a lot going on geologically in the Sea-to-Sky and this film is perfectly structured and pitched.
  • 3 0
 So rad Will! I think its really cool how you were able to combine your passion for bikes and your studies at Quest University together in a digestible, well-informed piece.
  • 1 0
 Spot on - nice to see a geologist and rider make the connection for other to see. It’s striking how many riders would make good geologists and they dont even realise! Mounting biking give a rider so much more then just a ride.

Cracking vid
  • 4 0
 This is great! thank you!
  • 2 0
 That was really interesting. Always had a soft spot for Geology. Nothing quite describes the antiquity of this planet better than rock.
  • 2 0
 Great filming, production, science, and riding! I got the feeling of a Warren Miller production with a Cosmos episode and Remy Metailler edit.
  • 2 0
 Wow, great content. It's awesome to see the geological diversity of just one area. Never really had a huge itch to go to Squamish until now!
  • 2 0
 This was awesome! I'm a geologist, living in Squamish, and I think you did an amazing job - great biking, awesome filming and excellent explanation!
  • 3 0
 Great video !!! Thanks man. More of this, please. A series to cover other cool riding areas would be great.
  • 3 0
 Not interested if its less than 1.0 Ga and hasn't been subjected to amphibolite facies metamorphism and deformation.
  • 4 0
 I like rocks
  • 3 0
 That was a really fun read
  • 1 0
 That was awesome! Thanks for creating this and sharing. Come do San Diego next so I'm more familiar with the area.
  • 1 0
 Nice job, good combination that sounds like a lot of work, well appreciated
  • 1 0
 every bikepacking trip I always wish we were traveling with a geologist. LOVED IT.
  • 1 0
 This is awesome!!! Oh and thanks for the influence to nose manual a rock slab.... my chin will heal just fine.
  • 2 0
 More of this please!
  • 1 0
 Damn that was pretty cool
  • 1 0
 Excellent content fusion!!
  • 1 0
 NERDS!!!
(Actually, that was awesome)
  • 1 0
 lovin it! Thanks a lot for this article
  • 1 0
 Well I learned something today.
  • 1 0
 Please, more of this educational stuff!
  • 1 0
 Fantastic job. Really enjoyable video with great content.
  • 1 0
 How good is science!

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