An Exciting Destination for Earth Science Enthusiasts Leave a comment

The scientists at Science North and Dynamic Earth make Sudbury a fascinating destination for earth science.
The Blue Coats are scientists working at Science North and Dynamic Earth. On the right is Emilie, a geologist, and on the left is Tiffany, who explained the significance of the meteor hit in Sudbury.

In Sudbury, I came face to face with the impact consumer demand has on our planet and efforts to meet those demands while minimizing the cost to the environment. Sudbury is an exciting travel destination for those interested in earth sciences.

The city is built on rock and survives on mining. The primary mineral extracted is nickel which was discovered there in the 1880s. For 100 years, the industry ate up the landscape with little regard for the environment. But, in 1978, the City of Greater Sudbury began, and continues, a Regreening Program that has enjoyed international recognition for its methodologies and achievements.

They began with a focus on rehabilitating Sudbury’s landscape and watersheds. Reducing air pollution was on their radar as well. The landscape has been transformed from barren rock to greenery. Lakes are now swimmable and the air far more breathable.

Last month, Jane Goodall, internationally renowned scientist and environmentalist, visited to plant the 10 millionth tree in the city as part of their re-greening effort. She even lent her name to the Jane Goodall Reclamation Trail which runs through a site that had been bare of vegetation in the 70s.

Yes, that’s right: bare of vegetation. There was a lot of work to do. The success of the efforts is evident but the work continues.

Concern for the environment seems ingrained in the city’s psyche. As such, it seems only natural that Sudbury would become a popular destination for earth science discovery and education and that these two significant centers would open there: Science North and Dynamic Earth.

Dynamic Earth is one of the centers of interest for those looking for a destination for earth science.
Dynamic Earth is a smaller center run by Science North that focuses on mining and the environment. Located at the Big Nickel, a giant replica of the 1951 Canadian nickel, it commemorates the 1751 identification of nickel as an element.

Dynamic Earth Is a Fantastic Visitor Attraction

Before visiting Sudbury, I had not been to a science center for many, many years. It was actually my lowest priority when I considered all the things to do in the city. But, I was surprised. After visiting Dynamic Earth, I was eager to see Science North as well.

Dynamic Earth is located beside the Big Nickel. It is part of Science North (read below) and has plenty of scientists, called “blue coats”, to answer questions and be your guide.

The exhibit starts with a look at the regreening of Sudbury. Using binoculars, you look through a window to see a green mountain ridge with just the end showing the black rock that was there before the regreening project. Displays go into more detail about the process over the 40+ years.

The visit continues with a variety of interactive exhibits including an explanation of the meteor that landed in the area creating the mineral rich basin and the reason that Sudbury is one of the largest nickel sources in the world. There’s also a mineral exchange where people can bring in mineral finds, gain points and then spend the points to acquire minerals they don’t have. When I was there, the special exhibit looked at mining technology at the forefront of safety.

A big attraction at Dynamic Earth is the mine tour. It costs a mere $5 more over your entrance fee. The tour lasts 1 hour 15 minutes and takes you down 7 stories into the earth and then through 100 years of mining history. If you’re looking for a destination to satisfy your earth science interests, this is it!

You enter the mine tour at a room called The Dry, a replica of the room where mining gear is hung to dry after a day’s work. From there, you take the elevator down and enter the damp, cool mine. Water seeps from the rocks. Before leaving the shaft into the adit (horizontal tunnel) you collect a hard hat. Then on to learn about the history of mining in the area. The tour is wheelchair accessible.

Fun fact: according to our guide, if you connected all the tunnels in Sudbury in a westerly direction, you’d make it to Vancouver!

Everyone associates Sudbury with the Big Nickel, but it's also a prime destination for earth science lovers.
Sudbury’s Big Nickel has been an attraction since 1964. It remained just another roadside attraction until Dynamic Earth opened in 1999.
Sudbury is a perfect destination for earth science enthusiasts as you can see the progress that has been made in the regreening process.
Without the regreening program, all of the landscape in the photo would be as the mountain in the background.
Simply called The Dry, this room is at the beginning of the Dynamic Earth mine tour. It is where miners start and end their day. The clothes are hung high to dry for the next day’s work.
The mine tour takes you 7 stories underground. It is not a working mine. The tour takes you through 100 years of mining technology. It is scheduled for renovation in 2023.
Science North is a wonderful part of what makes Sudbury a great destination for earth science enthusiasts.
Science North is a science center that focuses on the natural sciences. It is built into the Sudbury igneous rock basin.

Science North Focuses on Earth Sciences

The Science North complex includes an IMAX theater, planetarium, and the science center and I used the day to take in all three.

After watching Dinosaurs of Antarctica at the IMAX, I went to the planetarium and learned the basics of our solar system that had been long forgotten. I remember poring over the solar system part of encyclopedias as a kid, but, I have to admit, I had forgotten most of it. The Planetarium is a live show with opportunities to ask questions.

After a quick lunch at the Science North cafeteria, I headed through the cave-like tunnel into the main building. Up a series of escalators surrounding the massive skeleton of a fin whale I explored the various exhibits. I was enthralled.

I have always leaned towards the arts. I have a history degree. I’m a writer. I love the theater. I am not a natural science geek. But even I could see what a great destination Sudbury is for earth science aficionados. One visit to Dynamic Earth and Science North and my worldview has shifted. I’m reading from a wider pool of sources. A trip to these centers alone is worth the trip to Sudbury.

You enter the exhibit area of Science North through a tunnel cut into the mountain.
Even Apollo astronauts know Sudbury to be a destination for earth science discoveries.
Shatter cones form in the bedrock beneath meteorite impact craters. Apollo astronauts visited Sudbury to find them and experience the landscape.
Turtles, fish, and even a friendly beaver live at Science North.
Natural science geeks will love the butterfly room at Science North
This is a giant owl butterfly emerging from its pupa in a case with other soon-to-be butterflies and moths in the butterfly room at Science North.
In this photo you can see Sudbury's past and future, one of the things that make it a fascinating destination for earth science lovers.
This apiary is outside on level 3 of Science North. With the Inco Superstack in the distance, I think this photo represents Sudbury’s past and future. The Superstack was opened in 1972 as a misguided attempt to reduce the pollution in Sudbury. The plan was to build the stack higher and, therefore, disperse the pollution farther afield. Sudbury’s regreening program began in 1978 and continues today.
Natural science geeks will love that even the art gallery of Sudbury celebrates nature.
Even the Art Gallery of Sudbury celebrates nature.

Considering a road trip to Sudbury? Here’s what you need to know: A Road Trip Alone: Top 10 Tips to Prepare.

This trip was sponsored by Tourism Sudbury but, naturally, my description of the experience is my own. Solo Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.

Last updated: 14th September, 2022

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