The students working on the bluff are enrolled in a field course in Earth and Environmental Sciences at UBC Okanagan.
Dr. Ian Saunders, participating in the field work, provided the following description of what the UBCO students were doing on the bluff along Okanagan Centre Rd. West
Although it looks like the students are examining the swallows’ holes, they were in fact undertaking an exercise in stratigraphy – the study of layers of sediments or rocks – which means that they had to describe the physical characteristics of the materials exposed in the road cuts and hillside above, and interpret what sort of environment they were deposited in.
The Okanagan Centre site is very special because it contains evidence of the last 100,000 years of environmental history (most similar sand/gravel sites in the central Okanagan only allow us to interpret the last 10-20,000 years). At Okanagan Centre, there is a record of two advances of glacial ice into the valley, plus the non-glacial periods before and after each period of glaciation. However, we discovered that the evidence of the most recent (and current) non-glacial period is rapidly being destroyed by the land clearance taking place at the top of the bluff.
The course is instructed by Dr. Jim Bowers, Sessional.