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Manitoba from the Air
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Description
Peat Plateaus and Sloping Fens Near the Mouth of the Hayes River

In this area the coastal plain is being rapidly uplifted. Peat covers a discontinuous veneer of recent over- bank alluvial deposits over marine silt and clay or wave-modified till. The Hayes River 1, transporting a large sediment load, is braided with in-channel islands: Rainbow Island 2, Seal Island 3, and Fishing Island 4. The Nelson River can be seen in the upper left corner 5. Wanatawakaw Portage runs from near Rainbow Island to the Nelson River.

Oval peat plateaus are well-developed 6. The regular outlines of these plateaus suggest that they are actively expanding over the surrounding fens, many of them eventually coalescing (as at 7). Collapse scars can be detected on the centre of some of the plateaus 8. The streaked pattern 9 of the gently sloping fen is created by sheet runoff in the spring and by ground water flow. The light tones also reflect vegetation responses to water quality. Dark tones indicate fairly nutrient-rich fens, with tamarack (Larix laricina) and shrubs in the sedge. Light areas are located down- slope from peat plateaus 10 where these interrupt the regional flow and the water is coming off the peat plateau. Here the water is poor in nutrients and more acid. The poorer nutrient and oxygen status, as well as the low PH values, produces a poorer fen with fewer trees and shrubs.[i]

The north bank of the Hayes is retreating rapidly under the combination of thermal and fluvial erosion, and a pile of debris 11 can be seen at the base of a bank failure.

Notes

[i] Interpratation from Mollard and Janes op. cit., 1984, 131.

Figure 5.29

Peat Plateaus and Sloping Fens Near the Mouth of the Hayes River