Recent work in Urban Geology

During the past several years I have been working on several urban geology projects around Nova Scotia. As a museum curator, my approach with urban geology has been to:

  1. Draw attention to the local bedrock and surficial geology that citizens can observe; including age, rock types, processes, and dangers. Describe and share the geology of place.
  2. Build knowledge about the geological components and characteristics of concrete sidewalks, including ‘sidewalk fossils’ to attract public interest.
  3. Link sites of geology significance with cultural history related to diverse communities as ways to broaden interest in geoscience with social values.

Workshops & Urban GeoTours

In October, I presented an “Urban Geology” workshop at the Atlantic Science Teachers Conference. Fifteen teachers from across the province shared their thoughts about benefits of engaging students with geology features located around the local areas. The workshop also included a short field trip to examine a nearby road-cut that exposed the local Goldenville Group, as well as the granite glacial erratics seen near the school.

You can explore some of the key geology sites of the Halifax West High School area on Google Maps.

Earlier in the year, I created the self-guided walking tour of the Dartmouth Commons for the GAC Halifax 2022 Conference. The tour was printed as a one-page (double sided) sheet that included a map and key information, and QR codes linked to online resources.

Two page urban geology of dartmouth commons printout with map and text information
Example of Dartmouth Commons Urban Geology self-guided tour.

The Dartmouth Commons Geotour was also published with an online component and resources to increase the accessibility beyond having to physically visit the site. Future plans include adding a self-guided audio tour to be used by onsite or online audiences.

The Dartmouth Park Geotour was also presented as part of the 2022 Halifax Jane’s Walks – and attracted over fifty participants. The 1.5 hour guided tour highlighted the surifical geology features of the glacial erratics – and linkages with cultural history dating back to 1840s, history of early mining, and the location of the Stairs Street School of significance to history of African Nova Scotians in Dartmouth.

I have recently started to explore the urban geology around Auburn Drive High School. This new urban geosite has a lot of community history and is a third education site that shares bedrock and surficial geology features found in Dartmouth Commons and the Halifax West School.

Citadel Drumlin

In May 2023 a guided walking tour of the Urban Geology of Citadel Drumlin was developed. Presentations were given to the Nova Scotian Institute of Science (30 people), and the tour was part of the Jane’s Walk Halifax 2023 schedule.

Concrete Geology

I continue to build knowledge around the geology components, processes, and features of concrete sidewalks, including material processes and relations to climate change, as well as ‘sidewalk fossils’ for building public interest in geoscience. A museum blog post was a starting point for building an inventory of sidewalk fossils and glacial striations in the Halifax area. The geology of concrete is a topic theme that provides linkages with educational curriculum and is a foundational topic of value in all urbanized environments.

Sidewalk Geology – Gravel, Sand, Cement, Water and Air

More resources and products related to this will be developed in the coming year.

Additional Reading

Encourage those interested to learn more to read Wilson and Jackson’s Earth Magazine article from 2016.






2 responses to “Recent work in Urban Geology”

  1. T. Kennedy Avatar
    T. Kennedy

    I participated in the Halifax West tour in October. Learned a lot about an area that I passed for over 10 years. Will be looking to do the Dartmouth Commons walking in the Spring. Thanks for the work that you do.

  2. Jonathan Cox Avatar
    Jonathan Cox

    I attended the Urban Geology Workshop for the Atlantic Science Teachers Conference. The entire session was very informative and interesting. Keep up the great work Tim!

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