Geoscientists from the Pacific Northwest have gathered in the Okanagan for a three-day conference to discuss and examine the Valley’s unique characteristics.
The topics range widely but include landforms, glacial history, a fault line and, not by coincidence, wine.
The National Association of Geoscience Teachers annual conference began Tuesday and wraps up Thursday.
Todd Redding of Okanagan College is leading the conference. He is a professor of geography, Earth and environmental sciences and is based in Okanagan College’s Penticton campus.
“The valley is split down the middle by a big fault, which has resulted in very different rock types on either side of the valley,” said Redding.
“On top of this, we have an amazing glacial history that leads to many of the interesting landforms we see. This geology — combined with our unique climate — allows for the ability to grow excellent wine grapes and tree fruit.”
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One unique Okanagan landform is Giant’s Head Mountain in Summerland. The extinct volcano was part of the conference’s field trip.
Geoscientists also visited the cliffs near Penticton, the Naramata Bench, and Skaha Lake to explore various types of rock and glacial sediments.
Redding noted, though, that the conference’s most intriguing geoscience element is the Okanagan’s relationship between geology, soil and wine. In fact, local terroir was the focus of the conference.
“Wineries take the idea of terroir very seriously,” said Redding. “It is a key consideration that most producers take into account when choosing a vineyard site.”
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All of the field trip sites are within a short distance of the Penticton campus and are locations that provide research and learning opportunities for Okanagan College students.
Regional dean Eric Corneau said the conference “is a great opportunity for both our instructors and students to learn from and collaborate with world-class geoscientists
“The Okanagan region has a naturally convincing pull, and we hope that by hosting this conference, we’re able to share more about diverse geography and the work our geography, Earth and environmental science department is doing in the field of education and research.”