A multi-disciplinary study of Port Eliza cave sediments and their implications for human coastal migration

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A multi-disciplinary study at Port Eliza cave on Vancouver Island has refined the timing and character of late Wisconsinan environments and has significant implications for the Human Coastal Migration Hypothesis. Loss-on-ignition, paleomagnetic and sedimentological data show that there was continuous sedimentation through the last glacial maximum, implying a warmbased Cordilleran Ice Sheet. Radiocarbon dating supported by paleomagnetic data and U/Th ages constrain the time of maximum glaciation to between ca. 16 and 12.5 ka BP. Terrestrial floral and faunal data indicate a pre-Last Glacial Maximum, cold, dry, steppe environment with rare trees but a diverse fauna. Marine fossils represent a rich, dominantly nearshore fauna and suggest the sea was close to the cave. These data indicate that ice-free conditions lasted until at least 16 ka BP, and suggest that prior to the late Wisconsinan glacial maximum, humans could have survived on a mixed marine-terrestrial diet in the Port Eliza area.

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Department of Earth Sciences - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.Sc.)