Process-Deposition Model for Target Surveys of Late-Pleistocene, Early-Holocene Natural Sites


  • Ben Michalchuk MacEwan University


West-central Alberta is a part of the “Ice-Free Corridor” (IFC), including regions a part of the earliest ice-free sections of land within continental Canada in the latter end of the late- Pleistocene. Recent evidence suggests the IFC may have been biologically viable at least ca. 13,000 years ago, but histories of its earliest human occupation(s) is contentious and dedicated explorations are limited. Stagnant sedimentation through the Holocene and a paucity of organic materials in these deposits further inhibit the establishment of the cultural chronologies of the corridor. For this, a process-depositional model was developed as a tool for the assessment for archaeological potential and surveys. The model recognizes the elevated depositional potential of soils atop topographies with concave geometries along the lower margins of raised, Late- Pleistocene/Early Holocene aged landforms. Field application of this survey approach occurred in the Summer of 2021 tested the relative reporting of soil depths at several locations across west-central Alberta, targeting Early Holocene eolian landforms. Under one hundred shovel tests were preformed, yielding 2 positive results within mapped regions. One test came during a site reinvestigation of known surface scatter: the other a distinct site in an under sampled region. Early results indicate the presence of cultural materials over mapped regions at a similar rate as the regional rate, but more widespread application of this survey method is needed. It is recommended that current survey strategies be adapted to sample a wider variety of landforms and landform elements, where physical location and geometry positively influence soil deposition.

Department: Physical Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Robin Woywitka





Physical Sciences