Niagara Issues - Bedrock Seepage
P. M. Eckel
Res Botanica
Missouri Botanical Garden

http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/ResBot/niag/
March 8, 2003

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Niagara Issues - Bedrock Seepage

 

The diary of George Clinton from the 1860's mentions the frozen seepage from the gorge walls noticed as he walked upstream from the village of Lewiston on the lake plain up the slope of the railroad bed to the upper region near what is now Niagara University. This is currently the upper hiking path at Artpark, the lower path along the River shore being a later earthwork, also made by a railroad: the Great Gorge Route. As Clinton toiled up the incline going toward Devil's Hole, he probably saw more water than is visible today, as at least in one place, a notch in the gorge wall that matches a corresponding stream bed on the bluffs above had been blocked, perhaps during construction of the Robert Moses Parkway, or the prior Lewiston Road. These seeps are very beautiful in winter. There is one feature in the gorge wall that is a smaller version of the Devil's Hole cove upstream. These seeps are not all alike. Some have a pinkish cast, perhaps from the fine red sediment deriving from the shaley bedrock. Some have a beautiful blue-green, much like the water in the riverbed, and both may be due in part to algae populations living in the substance of the ice mass. Another kind of seep outflow has a dirty, or black-soil suspension that freezes into blackish-gray veils. A fourth type, seen below as a black streak, is thermally different from the others. This curious seep happens to be so warm it never freezes.

 

Note this water outflow is ditched beside the old railroad bed on the side parallel to the gorge wall. Here a bounteous wetland composed of a riot of pioneer native and opportunistic alien species has developed, not only in the ditches but on the ledges up to the caprock. At certain seasons they resemble a hanging garden. Note the dominance of Phragmites in the ditches. The presence of salt in this discharge, originating in road maintenance beside and parallel to the gorge, may contribute to the establishment and vigor of some salt tolerant species here.

 

 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

This black streak is actually outflow that for some reason, whether thermally or chemically, does not freeze as the other discharge does.


 


 

 

 

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