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15-16-18 Mile Creek - Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

15-16-18 Mile Creek - Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario Subwatersheds 27, 28 and 29 Lake Ontario Subwatersheds 27, 28 and 29 are very small subwatersheds located along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. Located in St. Catharines, Subwatershed 27 is primarily urban. The Lake Ontario shoreline is experiencing mild to moderate erosion in these subwatersheds (NWQPS Regional Municipality of Niagara 2003). Niagara Escarpment Features The Niagara Escarpment is a prominent feature in the Fifteen, Sixteen and Eighteen Mile Creeks watershed. The Niagara Escarpment extends 725 kilometres from Queenston on the Niagara River to Tobermory, located at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. The origin of the Niagara Escarpment dates back to approximately 450 million years when the escarpment lay under a shallow warm sea, now referred to as the Michigan Basin. Rivers flowing into this ancient sea carried sand, silt and clay that were eventually deposited as thick layers of sediment along with lime-rich organic material from decomposing sea life. Over millions of years, these materials were compressed into considerable layers of sedimentary rocks and ancient reef structures, some still visible along the escarpment. Some of the rock layers also consist of soft shales and sandstones, and others contain more durable rock layers comprised of dolostone. Over the past 405 million years, glaciation, water flow, and freeze-thaw cycles have eroded back and cut into the face of the escarpment. The harder layers including the Lockport-Amabel Formation that caps the Niagara Escarpment are carbonate rocks (limestone and dolostone). These resistant rocks breakoff in vertical slabs forming the main cliff-face, subsidiary cliffs and a rubble slope commonly referred to as “talus” (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources1992), which is evident in the Fifteen-Sixteen-Eighteen Mile Creeks watershed. Topography The topography of the Fifteen-Sixteen-Eighteen Mile Creeks watershed is characterized by a gently rolling to flat topography above the Niagara Escarpment before the Fifteen, Sixteen and Eighteen Mile Creeks flow over the escarpment (figure 3). The Fifteen Mile Creek flows over the escarpment at Rockway Conservation Area, and Sixteen Mile Creek flows over the escarpment at Louth Conservation Area. As noted above, the Niagara Escarpment is the dominant landform feature in the watershed. Below the escarpment the Fifteen, Sixteen and Eighteen Mile Creeks flow over relatively flat terrain before they outlet to Lake Ontario; both Fifteen and Sixteen Mile Creeks flow through ponds measuring 1 kilometre and 2.5 kilometres respectively, before emptying into Lake Ontario. Physiography and Geology Above the Niagara Escarpment, Fifteen, Sixteen and Eighteen Mile Creeks and their tributaries originate in the Haldimand Clay Plain, with the exception of a small eastern portion of the Fifteen Mile Creek that flows off the west side of the Fonthill Kame. Below the escarpment, a band of glacial shorecliff underlying old Highway 8 cuts across the clay plain. The remainder of the watershed, below the escarpment, is comprised of Lake Iroquois Sand Plain to the Lake Ontario shoreline. The physiography and geology of the Fifteen-Sixteen-Eighteen Mile Creeks watershed are illustrated on Figures 4 and 5. Fifteen and Sixteen Mile Creek Valleys The Fifteen and Sixteen Mile Valleys Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) includes a 3.5 kilometre stretch of escarpment slope and plain. The main escarpment slope varies between 10 to 30 metres high and is capped by 1 to 3 metres of dolostone cliffs of the Lockport Formation. One of the largest terrace complexes on the Niagara Escarpment can be found in this ANSI below the main escarpment slope. The terraces range between 110 to 150 metres above sea level and are underlain by resistant dolostones and sandstones of the Irondequoit and Whirlpool Formations with intervening softer shales of the Cabot Head and Grimsby Formations (Riley and others 1996). 6

Figure 3: Topography 7

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