The Ultimate Canadian Geography Quiz: Geology edition

Minerals, mountains and more landmarks, water in all its forms: 50 questions that will test the depth of your Canadian geology knowledge.
By Nick Walker

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This is the essential Canada — everything that lies beneath our feet and in our oceans, from continental tectonic plates and water supplies to glacial ice and the minerals and other natural resources we use every day.

This geology themed edition of Canadian Geographic’s annual ultimate quiz was created in honour of the Geological Survey of Canada, which in 2017 — Canada’s 150th anniversary — will turn 175. The Survey is the nation’s oldest scientific agency, and it has a lot in common with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, publisher of this magazine. RCGS founder Charles Camsell and many other Society Presidents and Fellows since have been Geological Survey geologists and surveyors.

The Survey has shown us exactly what Canada is made of and how it all fits together. Let’s see how you fare on 50 tough questions about the country’s foundations.

CANADIAN GEOGRAPHIC EDUCATION
Several of the questions in this quiz were created by Jack Cheng and Jessica Cao, the first- and second-place finishers in the 2016 Canadian Geographic Challenge, a national geography quiz competition for Canadian students. For more about the Challenge and to test your skills on questions from past events, go to challenge.cangeo.ca.

MINERALS

1. During the Klondike Gold Rush, Dawson, Y.T., had the largest population of any community west of Winnipeg and north of Seattle.

True
False

2. Advances made during the Second World War led to a peacetime demand for this substance, of which Canada has large reserves.

Potash
Tungsten
Uranium
Gold

3. Schefferville, Que., less than two kilometres from the Labrador border, was established in 1954 as a mining town. What was mined there for decades?

Copper
Iron
Coal
Pyrite

4. Opened in 2008, the Northwest Territories’ Snap Lake diamond mine is the De Beers diamond company’s first mine outside Africa.

True
False

5. The Ring of Fire area in Ontario’s James Bay Lowlands is one of the most mineral-rich parts of Canada. Where did it get its name?

Long-burning peatlands
Fireweed common in the area
The Johnny Cash song
Volcanic activity

6. Molybdenum, a silver-grey metallic element, is mined in British Columbia. What do we use it for?

As an alloy for strengthening steel
As a plant fertilizer
Both a and b

7. This southern city sits atop huge natural gas reserves.

Sherbrooke, Que.
Windsor, Ont.
Brandon, Man.
Medicine Hat, Alta.

8. At about 4.28 billion years, the oldest rocks ever found are on the Quebec side of Hudson Bay. By comparison, how old is Earth itself?

9.54 billion years
7.54 billion years
5.54 billion years
4.54 billion years

9. The Canadian Shield is mainly composed of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.

True
False

10. Most Canadian uranium is mined in Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

True
False

LANDFORMS

11. The Yukon’s Mount Logan — named for William Edmond Logan, first director of the Geological Survey of Canada — is Canada’s tallest mountain. How tall is it?

6,190 metres
5,959 metres
4,895 metres
3,747 metres

12. What is the oldest mountain range in Canada?

Mackenzie Mountains, N.W.T., Y.T.
Rocky Mountains, B.C., Alta.
Torngat Mountains, Que., Labrador
Laurentian Mountains, Que.

13. Much of the British Columbia-Alberta border was drawn along this natural line.

The highest chain of the Rocky Mountains
The Continental Divide
The Rocky Mountain foothills
The Bow River

14. The huge North American tectonic plate underlies all of North America and Greenland and part of Siberia. Around how far does this plate move each year?

2.3 centimetres
15 centimetres
2.3 metres
1.5 kilometres

15. Which of these national parks is home to the Long Range Mountains?

Kluane National Park, Y.T.
Riding Mountain National Park, Man.
Gros Morne National Park, N.L.
Auyuittuq National Park, Nunavut

16. Ontario has thousands of smooth, inverted spoon-shaped hills, formed by glaciers more than 10,000 years ago. What are they called?

Moraines
Pingos
Hoodoos
Drumlins

17. Sandstone hoodoos along this Alberta river contain the largest concentration of First Nation rock art (petroglyphs and pictographs) in North America.

Milk River
South Saskatchewan River
Athabasca River
Bow River

18. Besides the isolation of the Haida Gwaii archipelago, scientists think this is the reason it is full of biologically unique species.

Little human interference
A period of violent volcanic activity
Lack of glaciation
Unusually mineral-rich soils

19. Including the Canadian Shield, how many distinct geological regions does Canada have?

3
6
16
25

20. Canada’s most recent volcanic eruption occurred more than 100 years ago.

True
False

WATER

21. Around what percentage of the world’s lakes are in Canada?

10
25
47
60

22. Going by surface area, how many of the world’s 10 largest lakes are at least partly in Canada?

2
5
8
10

23. Which of the following sources do more Canadians rely on for drinking water?

The Great Lakes
Groundwater

24. Which are the only two Canadian provinces with no lakes larger than 400 square kilometres?

Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick
Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island and Yukon
New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

25. How far do Canada’s offshore boundaries (its economic zone) extend from the coast?

100 kilometres
100 nautical miles
200 nautical miles
500 kilometres

26. What record does Great Slave Lake, N.W.T., hold?

Largest lake entirely inside Canada’s borders
Deepest lake in North America
Greatest water volume of all Canadian lakes

27. A full 60 per cent of Canada’s surface fresh water flows here:

South toward the U.S. border and into the States
East to the Atlantic
West to the Pacific
North to subarctic regions and the Arctic Ocean

28. What is the name of this famously turquoise lake?

O’Hara
Emerald
Louise
Okanagan

29. The St. Lawrence River is home to the largest freshwater archipelago in the world.

True
False

30. Which of these is British Columbia’s Fraser River? (Hint: each option is in relative scale.)

A
B
C
D

ICE AND SNOW

31. How long does it take icebergs calved in west Greenland to reach Newfoundland’s waters?

Two to three weeks
Two to three months
Two to three years
Six months

32. On average, avalanches are responsible for this many fatalities in Canada each year.

1-3
5-6
10-15
50-60

33. These are the only Canadian provinces with no permafrost. (Permafrost is ground that remains frozen for more than two consecutive years.)

British Columbia, Prince Edward Island
Alberta, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador
Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island

34. How many major islands (larger than 130 square kilometres) are in Canada’s Arctic Archipelago?

36,469
372
94
13

35. Why do glaciers often have a blue hue?

Density
Microorganisms
Mineral content

36. Canada is home to one of the world’s two remaining ice sheets (ice caps larger than 50,000 square kilometres).

True
False

37. Ice-road thickness is tested constantly, and truckers are careful with their loads and speed. What’s considered the minimum thickness for cars and light trucks?

20 centimetres
30 centimetres
0.5 metres
1 metre

38. Multi-year ice (sea ice that has survived at least two summers) is much more common in the Arctic than in Antarctica.

True
False

39. Icebergs are divided into six broad shape categories. Which category does the berg above fit into?

Pinnacle
Dry dock
Wedge
Blocky

40. This is the largest ice mass in the Rocky Mountains.

Columbia Icefield
Athabasca Glacier
Mount Brown Icefield
Crowfoot Glacier

Bonus Category: THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

41. The original headquarters of the Geological Survey of Canada were established in this city in 1842.

Ottawa
Toronto
Montreal
Quebec City

42. This was the Geological Survey of Canada’s top priority when it was founded.

Mapping the nation
Locating precious metals
Asserting sovereignty over Canadian lands
Finding coal deposits

43. Which of these natural geological hazards is not a research concern of the Geological Survey of Canada?

Earthquakes
Wildfires
Volcanoes
Floods

44. What happened 25 years after the Geological Survey of Canada was founded that exponentially increased its area of operations?

Canada’s maritime boundaries were extended
Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada
Confederation

45. The Geological Survey of Canada did not start exploring this region until 1870, when it was ceded to Canada.

Rupert’s Land
Newfoundland
British Columbia
Nunavut

46. What famous Geological Survey of Canada explorer discovered major coal deposits and dinosaur fossil fields in Alberta?

Vilhjalmur Stefansson
Barnum Brown
Joseph B. Tyrrell
Philip J. Currie

47. When the subarctic Barren Lands west of Hudson Bay were being explored in the early 1890s, they were still rumoured to be “swarming with cannibals.”

True
False

48. The 1903-04 Neptune Expedition was Canada’s first major step toward Arctic sovereignty. What major island did the Geological Survey of Canada formally claim for Canada on this expedition?

Baffin
Ellesmere
Victoria
Devon

49. Using this tool, the Geological Survey of Canada mapped as much of Canada in the 1950s as it had in the previous 110 years.

Blimps
Satellites
GPS
Helicopters

50. Since the mid-1990s, the Geological Survey of Canada has been part of this major government department.

Environment Canada
Natural Resources Canada
National Research Council Canada
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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