Basalt columns in the Cariboo are an interesting sight for members of the local high school environmental club. (Photo submitted)

Basalt columns in the Cariboo are an interesting sight for members of the local high school environmental club. (Photo submitted)

Williams Lake high school environmental club explores Cariboo basalt columns

We live in an area that millions of years ago had active volcanoes

Kim Zalay

Special to the Tribune

Organized by teacher sponsor, Jeff Wang, seven senior campus and one junior campus members of the Enviro Club took a day trip to check out the basalt columns north of McLeese Lake, off Moffat Lake Rd.

With a short hike into the columns through ankle-deep snow students were awed by the large basalt columns that look like giant chunks of rock stacked on top of each other.

Many individuals, old and young, are amazed to discover that we live in an area that millions of years ago had active volcanoes that have contributed to our land formations along with tectonic plate movement and retreating glacial ice.

During the volcanic eruptions great flows of lava run down the landscape with bubbles boiling on the top of these flows, hardening along with the lava itself, to become basalt rock. Over time the hardened flow was covered by sediment and then glaciers. As the glacier ice retreated they scraped across the hardened lava flows (basalt rock) removing the bubbles and top layers. As well, this hardened lava started to dry from the bottom up creating cracks in the basalt rock (like dried mud puddles).

Over time these cracks worked their way to the tops of the basalt rock creating column-like structures.

After exploring and, for a few, traversing the columns students had lunch before carrying on to check out how the Alexandria Falls were fairing in our early winter weather. The hike from the columns to the falls follows a well-marked, level path for 30 to 45 minutes before crossing an old logging road. Across the road to the left are the falls.

We had expected to see a trickle of water at this time of year, however, we were met with a display of ice cascading down the drop of the falls.

This is a positive group of students eager to learn about the formation of the basalt columns and to explore the outdoors around them.

Along with working to educate their school community on various environmental issues, the group looks to do stewardship projects, and is also looking forward to star gazing sessions with Mr. Wang (his specialty) and future explorations into new environments and new adventures throughout the school year.


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