Late Quaternary landscape evolution in a region of stable postglacial relative sea levels, British Columbia central coast, Canada

Jordan B.R. Eamer, Daniel H. Shugar, Ian Walker, Christina M. Neudorf, Olav B. Lian, Jennifer L. Eamer, Jordan Bryce, Libby Biln

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


After retreat of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet (CIS) and subsequent glacio-isostatic adjustment of the central coast of British Columbia (BC), Canada, a complex coastline emerged as relative sea level rapidly reached equilibrium and maintained stability over the end of the Late Pleistocene and Holocene. This study provides a late Quaternary reconstruction of the landscape evolution of a geographically distinct location on the central BC coast, northwest Calvert Island, which experienced a re-advance of the CIS near the end of the Late Pleistocene and minimal subsequent relative sea-level change. Geomorphological observations from LiDAR imagery, sedimentological and palaeoecological evidence from exposures, cores and shovel pits, and a robust luminescence and 14C-based chronology spanning the last 15 000 years are used to reconstruct the landscape of northwest Calvert Island following CIS retreat. A single-aliquot regenerative dose protocol that was developed specifically for luminescence dating of the sediments on Calvert Island was utilized in this study. Localized proglacial sedimentation was linked to the glacial re-advance experienced at the end of the Late Pleistocene. Extensive coastal reconfiguration (e.g. rapid shoreline progradation of >1 m a−1) occurred in the absence of extensive RSL change, which was the main driver of coastal change elsewhere along the BC coast. Changes in climate, small magnitude changes in RSL, and fire all probably played a role in isolated aeolian landform development and stabilization in the study area. An important contribution of this study is the documentation of the multi-disciplinary approach for reconstructing palaeogeography, using multiple geochronological methods, micro- and macro-sedimentology, the palaeoecology inferred from both macro and microfossils (e.g. diatoms and foraminifers), stratigraphy, field mapping and remote sensing. In addition, these findings inform our understanding of the drivers of coastal sedimentary processes, particularly in the temperate coastal rainforest region of BC, and the role that fire may play in those processes. Coastal palaeogeography studies in the region will become increasingly important as discoveries of Late Pleistocene human habitation along the coastal migration route continue to be documented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-753
Number of pages16
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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