Niagara Issues - Artesian Systems
P. M. Eckel
Res Botanica
Missouri Botanical Garden
March 8, 2003

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Niagara Issues - Artesian Systems


These pictures indicate the soaking river bank beyond or downstream of the northern boundary of Artpark. The green is predominantly the moss Didymodon tophaceus, which covers the bank surface in year round moisture. During the course of photosynthesis, carbon dioxide in solution is removed from groundwater containing calcium bicarbonate ions. Insoluble calcium carbonate is precipitated out and coats the lower portions of the plant stems, indurating them. Through time the base of these plant populations resembles stone (tufa) in which the original leaf stance and stem may be seen, as though fossilized. When seepage turns to ice in winter, the ice may "pluck" the soaking substrate from its place on the banks and in spring, during thaws, the tufa mass tumbles down onto the shoreline below, or onto the talus slopes. This moss is characteristic also of seepage on both sides of the gorge, along its entire seven mile length where it develops primarily in ledges and at the bases of the calcareous strata. Since the bedrock strata at Artpark seem to be composed of shale, one may speculate that the calcareous water originated from above the lake plain. Two other mosses also create tufa in this way, Hymenostylium recurvirostrum, found mostly in the caprock upstream, and Eucladium verticillatum, only one isolated station of which was discovered at Niagara Glen, Ontario, in areas of late snow melt near Niagara Glen.









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