Westworld Alberta

Winter 2015

Westworld Alberta

Issue link: http://westworldmagazine.ama.ab.ca/i/590742

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Page 57 of 59

ROADSIDE 58 W E S T W O R L D A L B E R T A | W I N T E R 2 0 1 5 Beauty in Bubbles By Kevin Brooker | photo by Emmanuel Coupé Kalomiris D rive west on the David Thompson Highway and, just before Banff National Park, you'll reach serpentine Abraham Lake. It is one of Alberta's largest man-made bodies of water and it's photogenic enough in the summer with its trademark Rockies turquoise tint, but visitors seldom linger. The water is cold and the winds fierce. Come frigid winter however, the often snow-scoured expanse becomes a mecca for ice explorers, and more specifically, nature photographers. Ever-fluctuating water levels cause the ice to crack dramatically and even slope up the banks, which is interesting enough. However the stars of this show are the millions of bubbles trapped like flies in amber. Turns out it's methane, from both decomposing organisms and deep rock sources, a phenomenon that occurs in other northern lakes but nowhere quite like this. As the frozen surface deepens through February, bubbles get trapped at successively lower levels, yielding a telltale chain of flattened spheres that almost look like cartoon- thought bubbles – as if the frozen, mantled Earth has a million ideas, all of which it will forget by spring. Be careful, though. There's danger on that ice. And whatever you do, don't try to ignite the bubbles. They could actually explode, and this is no time for a swim. W

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