Please join us for the next Faculty of Science lecture.
Lost Rivers – Natural Causes and Careless Humans
Martin Gibling, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, Dalhousie University
Rivers constantly shift their courses, appear and disappear through time, responding to such controls as earthquakes and floods, as well as human influences. The talk focuses on two river systems that have gone “missing in action” for different reasons. Originating as an oral tradition perhaps 6,000 years ago, ancient vedic writings praise the majestic Saraswati River, which once watered the plains of northern India. Where has the river gone, and why? Closer to home, the City of London was built over tributaries such as the River Fleet that became progressively polluted, resulting in the conversion of the River Thames into a gigantic cesspool and the closure of Parliament in 1858. The talk documents the later history of these rivers and recent attempts to return them to the surface. Finally, many rivers and wetlands in Canada and worldwide hang in the balance as a result of irrigation, dams, industrial development, and climate change. A major future challenge is to balance the economic needs of a growing population with the intrinsic value of rivers as healthy and thriving ecosystems.