Banff, Jasper, Yoho National Parks

Alberta, British Columbia,

Canada, August 2022

Nikon D600, 24-85mm Nikon zoom lens, 100-300mm lens, iPhone 13

copyright Robert Gendler 2022

Click on images below for larger images


Town of Banff surrounded by the following peaks.....Tunnel Mountain, Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain, Mount Norquay, and Cascade Mountain.


 Lake Louise in the morning with Full Moon


 Morraine Lake


Peyto Lake


Climbing the Parker Ridge Trail (James)


 On the Parker Ridge Trail


Parker Ridge Trail with view of Sashachewan Glacier

Video: View of Saskachewan Glacier from Parker Ridge Summit.


Town of Jasper


Stutfield Glacier From Icefields Parkway



Boundary, Athabasca, Dome Glaciers, and Glacial stream viewed from Icefield Parkway


VIDEO of Wilcox Pass summit with view of Iceland Parkway, Boundary, Athabasca, and Dome Glaciers



Boundary and Athabasca Glaciers from summit of Wilcox pass Trail


Emerald Lake with Mount Wapta in Background, Yoho National Park, British Columbia


Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park, British Columbia


Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

 The Burgess Shale

The Burgess Shale is one of the most famous and important Fossil Sites in the world.

Located in Yoho National Park, British Columbia on a ridge nestled between Mount Wapta and Mount Field, lies the Burgess Shale. Discovered by Charles Walcott in 1909, the Fossils of the Burgess Shale represent an astonishing snapshot of life during the Late Cambrian period (510 million years ago). This period followed one of the most spectacular evolutionary events in the history of life – The Cambrian Explosion. Within ten million years, a very short period geologically, a host of hard-body and soft-body complex animals with a variety of body forms appeared in the fossil record for the very first time. Nothing like it was seen previously. These creatures represent the first truly complex animals in the Fossil record. Many of the modern animal Phyla are represented in the fauna of the Burgess Shale although several Burgess Shale animals have no counterpart in modern times and likely were dead end evolutionary experiments.


Half a billion years ago, the world was a different place: Days were 21 hours long, years lasted 420 days, and the landmasses were clumped together and devoid of both plants and animals. However, there was abundant life in the seas. The Burgess Shale quarries are famous not just for the sheer number and variety of fossils and their rare and lovely preservation, but also for the window they open to the past. Multicellular life evolved on Earth about 570 million years ago with a bang known as the Cambrian Explosion. During a mere 10 million year stretch (a blink of the eye in terms of geologic time) essentially all the body plans of modern animals alive today came to be in what was a remarkable evolutionary crescendo . No fundamental animalian body types have been added since that time. Even our own remote evolutionary ancesters, the phylum Chordata (having a backbone and bilaterality), were present in the Burgess Shale fauna.


The Burgess Shale is special for another reason. For an intact 500-million-year-old soft-bodied fossil to endure is extremely rare. To be immortalized as a fossil, an organism must avoid predation, scavengers and decomposition and be preserved in an ideal environment, often through rapid burial. Then the rock stratum containing the fossil must remain pristine for millions of years, avoiding metamorphosis, compression, distortion and extreme heating. Finally, if the fossil is to be studied, it must be unearthed through erosion and, of course, discovered. Most of the Burgess Shale animals lived on the seafloor. During the Middle Cambrian, the Burgess Shale quarries lay underwater just north of the equator, at the foot of a submerged limestone wall known as the Cathedral Escarpment. Scientists speculate that ocean currents continuously swept siliceous muds and sediments over the rim of the Cathedral Escarpment, where they piled in a wedge at the base of the cliffs. Occasionally, this wedge would slump downslope, quickly burying any creatures living on the seafloor at the base of the cliffs. Subsequent preservation of the Burgess Shale fossils required something of a perfect fossilization storm, one that only occurred in a very narrow zone. The famous quarry of fossil-rich shale is about 3 meters high and less than a city block long, bookended by metamorphically baked shale that contains no fossils. Proximity to the durable Cathedral Escarpment — remnants of which can still be seen above the quarry — is likely what saved the fossils from compaction or warping as the Canadian Rockies were uplifted during the Mesozoic.

Information from




My son and I came across this plaque while hiking around Emerald Lake during our last day in Canada. Although I've read books about the Burgess Shale I had no idea we were in its vicinity.


Site of "Burgess Shale" nestled between Mount Wapta and Mount Field

Yoho National Park, British Columbia (my photo)



Close up of the Burgess Shale Quarries (my Photo)

Historical Quarries:

Charles Walcott: Original discoverer of the Burgess Shale

Geological Survey of Canada - Commission Géologique du Canada

Percy Raymond, Curator of Paleontology at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology

Royal Ontario Museum


Books on the Burgess Shale

Wonderful Life, The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History, Stephen Gould, 1989, W.W. Norton.

The Fossils of the Burgess Shale, Derek Briggs, Douglas Erwin, Frederick Collier and Chip Clark, 1995, Smithsonian Institution Press.

The Crucible of Creation: The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals, Simon Conway-Morris, 1999, Oxford University Press

Web Sites about the Burgess Shale