Sunday, November 08, 2015

Nature's Palette

Very exciting discovery!

I came across this natural phenomena on an offshoot of the Elbow River in early November. 

The Elbow River is neither deep nor fast in the fall. The river meanders down a valley and encircles numerous small forested islands. The tiny rivulets that encircle the islands are often only inches deep and during exceptionally dry summers the water sometimes dries up.

At the north end of this rivulet was a beaver-built dam. The dam allowed a deeper wetland to form and this marshy area is home to Mallards and Wigeons that nest there in the spring and summer. The wetland is also a popular food source for a Moose that lives nearby. The dam this year kept the wetland about 6 to 12 inches above the natural water level of the Elbow River where this photo was taken. 

At the south end, the rivulet opens into the Elbow River and some ice had recently formed on the slower moving portions close to the shore.  

This phenomena was therefore bounded by ice and by a beaver dam. The photo shows the "colors" moving from the dam to the ice. 

The banks on the east side of the rivulet were stained with natural pigments similar to the colors in the photo. The leaves, berries, lichen, and other plant material are the source for the natural pigments. 

The pigments likely gathered on the surface at the beaver dam end of the rivulet and must have moved very slowly towards the south. I presume the ice that formed at the north prevented the surface water from moving faster.

Much like litmus paper separates out chemicals based on the molecular weight of the substances in a solution, the natural pigments (chemicals) separated out on the surface of the rivulet. This created a palette of colors. Nature's Palette. 

The close-up above shows the details of the tiny wave motion on the surface of the water. Looks like "brush strokes."

The close-up above shows the "sheen on the surface" that implies the oily nature of the pigments.


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