17 September 2010

Toronto Till Commandos

Sedimentary successions tell a story when soil core samples are placed from end-to-end forming a continuous sequence of the deposits.   For our course in Toronto, we use tables for placing the continuous core which is much easier for rapid and close evaluation.


Our friends from both GroundTech Solutions (GeoProbe Systems distributor) and Boart Longyear Company continuously sampled multiple deep soil cores for our field exercises during the 2-day course Improving the Description and Characterization of Glacial Successions.  The weather was great and the sedimentary sequence was perfect for teaching how sediments and their associated geotechnical and hydraulic properties are ultimately controlled by depositional environments - the sole independent variable.   Once we built the geologic framework from the soil cores, we could confidently take steps toward taking the mystery out of the subsurface and understand ground water occurence and movement applied to both environmental and engineering projects.

Dr's. Tim Kemmis and Carolyn Eyles taught the majority of the course with assistance from Dr. Kelsey MacCormack and me, Dan Kelleher.  Tim and Carolyn are possibly the most two qualified living glacial sedimentologists to teach this course based on course application and context - it has been a personal goal for many years to have them team up to teach this important course.  Kelsey MacCormack is fearlessly demystifying both reliability and (un)certainty in 3D geologic model data sets which I suspect most professionals will embrace since anyone dealing with modeling has faced the problematic issue of unevenly weighted confidence in data sets.

Attendee experience was wide ranging from a few non-technical staff to dedicated "Till Commandos" (an endearing name I'm borrowing from the Midwest Friends of the Pleistocene).  The majority of attendees were from across Canada with most driving from locations with Ontario.  The US contingent had a strong attendance too, with some from non-glaciated states!

Its gratifying to watch the rapid improvement of attendees both  "reading the story" the deposits are telling plus describing the sequence in that manner.  I believe everyone at the end of the course was efficiently characterizing the sequence using complete, accurate and credible descriptions plus recognizing and understanding the meaning and context of each subsurface unit.    Their personal pride and achievement bodes well for our industry as a whole.