Okanagan on a fault line

With a fault line running down the middle of it, the Okanagan Valley is full of interesting geology.

Good thing, because Okanagan College’s Penticton campus is hosting the National Association of Geoscience Teachers annual conference this week.

Heading the three-day event is Todd Redding, Okanagan College’s Professor of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. He saw the potential in bringing the conference to the Okanagan for the first time.

“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,” says 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.”

Summerland’s Giant’s Head Mountain, an extinct volcano, is an example of the Valley’s unique geology and was highlighted during a field trip outing Wednesday.

Researchers will also visit the cliffs below the Penticton sign, the Naramata Bench and Skaha Lake to explore various types of rock and glacial sediments.

But what attendees are really interested in, is wine. A keynote was held on the relationship between wine, geology and the soils of the sprawling vineyards of the south Okanagan.

“Wineries take the idea of terroir very seriously. It is a key consideration that most producers take into account when choosing a vineyard site,” says Redding.

The conference kicked off Tuesday and continues through Thursday. Held on campus to start, attendees have had the opportunity to present research, teaching techniques, as well as undergraduate findings.

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