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The Brazeau Range at Nordegg

As you approach Nordegg, the massive Brazeau Range dominates the skyline, extending 55 kilometres in length and rising to an elevation of 2174 metres. Although it looks like you have reached the Front Ranges, they are still another 35 kilometres to the west. The Brazeau Range is actually an oddity in the Foothills - an isolated area of older limestones that is surrounded by the younger rocks of the Foothills. The Range is an inticline of Paleozoic limestones and dolostones that have been greatly uplifted and folded by movement along the Brazeau Thrust Fault. Millions of years of erosion of the softer overlying Cretaceous sedimentary rocks have left the folded limestone standing as a high ridge.

The Brazeau Ridge is composed of the familiar Palliser and Banff Formations and the Rundle Group which form many other peaks in the Front Ranges. At the Nordegg townsite, if you look northwest along the range towards Coliseum Mountain, there is a gentle arch, or anticline, of these limestones and dolostones which forms the summit of this mountain. Just east of the town, Nordegg Lime Limited is quarrying pure limestone for ornamental rock and as a conditioner for acidic soils.

On the west side of the Brazeau Range is the western limb of the anticline where sandstones, shales, and economic coal seams of the Luscar Group are exposed at the surface. Brazeau Collieries was established in 1911 by Martin Nordegg to mine this bitumous coal as fuel for steam locomotives. The mine produced until 1955 when the railways completed their switch to diesel locomotives. Today, the mine site is designated an Alberta Historic Resource and tours can be arranged through the Nordegg Historical Society.

Reproduced from A Traveller's Guide to Geological Wonders of Alberta by Ron Mussieux and Marilyn Nelson with permission of the authors and the Provincial Museum of Alberta.

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