A post-glacial sea level hinge on the central Pacific coast of Canada

Duncan McLaren, Daryl Fedje, Murray B. Hay, Quentin Mackie, Ian J. Walker, Dan H. Shugar, Jordan B.R. Eamer, Olav B. Lian, Christina Neudorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Post-glacial sea level dynamics during the last 15,000 calendar years are highly variable along the Pacific coast of Canada. During the Last Glacial Maximum, the Earth's crust was depressed by ice loading along the mainland inner coast and relative sea levels were as much as 200m higher than today. In contrast, some outer coastal areas experienced a glacial forebulge (uplift) effect that caused relative sea levels to drop to as much as 150m below present levels. Between these inner and outer coasts, we hypothesize that there would have been an area where sea level remained relatively stable, despite regional and global trends in sea level change. To address this hypothesis, we use pond basin coring, diatom analysis, archaeological site testing, sedimentary exposure sampling, and radiocarbon dating to construct sea level histories for the Hakai Passage region. Our data include 106 newly reported radiocarbon ages from key coastal sites that together support the thesis that this area has experienced a relatively stable sea level over the last 15,000 calendar years. These findings are significant in that they indicate a relatively stable coastal environment amenable to long-term human occupation and settlement of the area. Our results will help inform future archaeological investigations in the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-169
Number of pages22
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - Aug 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Archaeology
  • Central Pacific coast of Canada
  • Coastal migration route
  • Eustatic
  • Isostatic
  • Northeast Pacific Rim
  • Northwest coast
  • Sea level change
  • Sea level hinge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


Dive into the research topics of 'A post-glacial sea level hinge on the central Pacific coast of Canada'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this