Cathedral Mountain, British Columbia

This is a site description from the 2010 geoNatHaz field school.

Tunnels and berms protect the C.P.R. mainline and the Trans- Canada highway from debris flows mobilized from jokulhlaups from Cathedral Glacier.

A small glacier on Cathedral Mountain produces pools of water on its surface, resulting in jökulhlaups (glacial outburst floods) of 10,000 to 24,000 cubic meters of water mobilizing debris flows of approximately 100,000 cubic meters. The historic debris flows began in 1925, increasing in frequency until 1985 with fans crossing the Trans-Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway mainline.

No significant events have occurred since the C.P.R began pumping meltwater from the glacier in 1985, although protective structures have also been built both in the form of tunnels to protect the trains, and berms to protect the highway[ref]Jackson, L., Hungr, O., Gardner, J., & Mackay, C. (1989). Cathedral Mountain debris flows, Canada Bulletin of the International Association of Engineering Geology, 40 (1), 35-54 DOI: 10.1007/BF02590340 [/ref].


Access & Location

Location: 51.42, -116.44 This site is observable from the Takakkaw Falls exit in Yoho National Park, Highway 1 between Field and Lake Louise.


[references /]

Related Reading

Hazards & Transportation Cooridors in BC

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2 Responses to Cathedral Mountain, British Columbia

  1. Greg McAuley says:

    The picture in this article is Mt Stephen, not Cathedral mountain.. Cathedral mountain is on the east side of the drainage showing the west aspect in the distance. The picture you’re looking at in this article is the defection berm on Mt Stephen designed to mitigate snow avalanches from hitting the CP Main Line and the Trans Canada Highway..
    Cathedral mountain had another debris flow release on July 9th, 2014 that deposited 6m of debris onto the CP Main Line. I’m Canadian Pacific’s Senior Avalanche Forecaster and I was just up there completing the snow avalanche hazard mapping for CP. There are hundreds of accurate photos of the Cathedral Mountain debris flows. The picture in this article is misleading and not accurate.

  2. Christine says:

    thank you Greg McAuley

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