The Victoria Glacier and Victoria Mountain provide a fantastic backdrop while canoeing Lake Louise and make you feel real small compared to the majesty of nature.
Lake Louise was created by the Victoria Glacier back in the last ice age about 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. We see the still active Victoria Glacier in the center of the photograph. It doesn’t look like many photographic glaciers because it is covered with debris (rocks having fallen onto it along its journey through the valley). The snowfields half-way up the steep sides of Mount Victoria in the background contribute to the rock debris falling onto the glacier, thus making the ice of the glacier all but invisible.
Like many of the lakes in the Rockies the water is either deep green or blue. This is caused by fine sediments called “rock flour” floating in the water. Rock flour is fine powdery rock that has been crushed and ground by a glacier. Lake Louise is a beautiful green color, but Peyto Lake, (further north on the Icefields Parkway) is a rich baby blue.
Another feature of the Rocky Mountain ranges shows clearly in the photo of Lake Louise. Notice that the rock strata of Mt. Victoria in the background appear to be horizontal. Wherever stratified rock exists, that indicates that the rocks were at one time formed as sediments at the bottoms of oceans, seas, or lakes. The sedimentary rocks may be sandstones – sediments that have solidified due to time and pressure. If the sediments have undergone extreme heat as well as pressure, they form metamorphic rocks. Metamorphic rocks are much harder as a result of the particles becoming sintered together, similar to the hardening of clay into pottery in a kiln. The results of the Earth’s tectonic plates colliding together has caused one plate to be thrust on top of another plate, thus causing elevated mountains that become easily eroded to form the picturesque glacier-formed lakes and valleys.
Victoria Glacier, Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada