Outer Coast Coring 2019

In August 2019 we spent a week on a small archipelago off the north coast of British Columbia, Canada, conducting field research to reconstruct sea level change in the area since the end of the Last Ice Age. The islands are some of the furthest offshore from the north coast mainland not including Haida Gwaii, and are in a position where we anticipate that relative sea level has remained somewhat stable since the melting of the ice sheets from the area sometime between 18,000 and 16,000 years ago. This particular geographical situation means that the location may be ideal for searching for preserved remains of very early human occupants of the Northwest Coast. With a team of researchers from Simon Fraser University Department of Archaeology and the Gitga’at First Nation we collected core samples from bogs, lakes, and lagoons that contain deep-time sediment records that can be analyzed to reconstruct the sea level history and ancient environment of the area. This information will help us to understand what this region of the Northwest Coast would have been like at the end of the Last Ice Age, and ideally help guide us in the search for archaeological evidence of people living on these ancient landscapes that would have been so much different from those of today. This research is funded by the National Geographic Society and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Check out the photos below to explore the islands and learn more about our project!

For information on locations with relatively stable sea levels on the Northwest Coast: McLaren, D., D.W. Fedje, M.B. Hay, et al. 2014. A post-glacial sea level hinge on the central Pacific Coast of Canada. Quaternary Science Reviews 97(1):148-169.

For information on the locations of ice sheets and the timing of initial deglaciation on the northern Northwest Coast: Darvill C.M., B. Menounos, B.M. Goehring, et al. 2018. Retreat of the Western Cordilleran Ice Sheet Margin During the Last Deglaciation. Geophysical Research Letters, 45, 9710–9720.

Shaw, J., J.V. Barrie, K.W. Conway, D.G. Lintern, R. Kung. 2019. Glaciation of the northern British Columbia continental shelf: the geomorphic evidence derived from multibeam bathymetric data. Boreas. https://doi.org/10. 1111/bor.12411.

Bryn LethamComment