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TitleRaised landforms in the east-central oil sands region: origin, age, and archaeological implications
AuthorWoywitka, R J; Froese, D G; Wolfe, S AORCID logo
SourceAlberta's lower Athabasca Basin: archaeology and palaeoenvironments; by Ronaghan, B M (ed.); Recovering the Past: Studies in Archaeology 2017 p. 69-82, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20110343
PublisherAU Press, Athabasca University
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
Released2017 05 01
A large number of known archaeological sites in the oil sands region are found on raised landforms in the Cree Burn - Kearl Lake lowland located east of the Athabasca River and south of Fort Hills. The origin and age of these landforms is examined using LiDAR image interpretation, analysis of landform shape, orientation, and sedimentary observations. We demonstrate that the majority of these features were formed as gravel bedforms related to catastrophic flooding from glacial lake Agassiz during deglaciation. The bedforms are frequently mantled with eolian sand, indicating that windy, dry conditions prevailed following flood sedimentation. It is possible that humans occupied the area during this period, although the precise age remains unclear due to the lack of directly-dated archaeological sites. Peat accumulation in the intervening lowlands followed eolian sedimentation, and it is assumed that a stable, vegetated surface was established on the raised landforms by this time, likely precluding significant eolian sedimentation. The co-occurrence of a burgeoning wetland community and stable uplands would have provided suitable habitat for human occupation.

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