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Beginnings and Landmarks

Mount Blackstrap settles into its new home

Saskatoon Star Phoenix
October 20, 1970. p. 4

Staff Reporter

There it stands on Blackstrap Lake -- a dark monument to the ability of man to unearth earth and make it more than it once was.

After only a year, the mountain already has a permanency about it -- but not as much of a permanency as onemight think. Mount Blackstrap is settling.

However, there is no cause for any fear that the mountain one day will give an agonizing sigh and deflate into the valley over which it stands. The settlement -- which so far has been about 40 inches, or just more than a metre -- was expected.

The mountain will continue, in fact, to settle for several more years, like a weight pushing on a sponge -- the sponge being, of course, the soil on which the mountain of the 1971 Canada Winter Games rests.

"The total settlement has been occuring ever since the first placement of the fill," said Paul Machibroda of Torchinsky Consultants Ltd., of Saskatoon, engineers of the raise - a - mountain project.

It's like a sponge. Press it a little and the sponge goes down. Press some more, and the sponge goes down more," he said.

"That is exactly what is happening with the soil underneath."

The mountain is finally expected to settle at least three feet. "This rate of settlement was expected. Initially, it was much more rapid last year because the soil was much looser," Mr. Machibroda said.

He described it as a "logarithmic settlement" where the rate will continue to decrease until, in time, the mountain will be solid.

"The major settlement has pretty well occured by now," he said.

Mount Blackstrap is unique in that the engineers have placed the instruments at the base of the fill to record the rate of settlement. The information obtained from the instruments will be helpful in plans for other fills in Canada and throughout the world, Mr. Machibroda said.

Within the last two months, the instruments measured a settlement of less than two inches.

While the height of the fill may fall, the elevation of the mountain is now greater than before.

Its elevation has been recorded as 2,045 feet above sea level. The addition of a ski jump structure, however, will bring the elevation up to 2,080 feet.