Monday, September 18, 2017
Gravel Glossary: Prairie Shale
Hey, Manitoba, you've got shale!
On my recent trip to the Morden area, south of Winnipeg, I stumbled onto a couple of these weird shale-gravel roads near the town of Miami.They look more treacherous than they actually are. The thin plates of shale are so soft and brittle that they basically crunch apart like potato chips when a bicycle tire rolls over them.
I was riding just below the little escarpment that runs northeast up to Roseisle, which means I was on the former seabed of glacial Lake Agassiz. I'm guessing the shale is a result of some kind of ancient sedimentary layering, the same phenomenon that has left so many fossils--including some big ones, like Bruce--in this part of Manitoba.
These days, when you hear the word shale it's hard not to think of fracking, and, in fact, just south of Manitoba's border, North Dakota is fracking the bejeezus out of its shale.
All I know is that I prefer my shale unfracked and fossily, preferably on forgotten prairie roads, under the tires of a gravel bicycle.