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TitrePalliser's Triangle: reconstructing the 'central desert' of the southwestern Canadian prairies during the late 1850s
AuteurWolfe, S A; Hugenholtz, C H; Lian, O B
SourceThe Holocene vol. 23, no. 5, 2013 p. 699-701, https://doi.org/10.1177/0959683612470179
Année2013
Séries alt.Secteur des sciences de la Terre, Contribution externe 20120206
ÉditeurSage
Documentpublication en série
Lang.anglais
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1177/0959683612470179
Mediapapier; en ligne; numérique
Formatspdf
ProvinceAlberta; Saskatchewan; Manitoba
SNRC62E; 62F; 62K; 62L; 72E; 72F; 72G; 72H; 72I; 72J; 72K; 72L; 72M; 72N; 72O; 72P; 73B; 73C; 73D; 82H; 82I; 82P; 83A
Lat/Long OENS-114.0000 -100.0000 53.0000 49.0000
Sujetsdépôts éoliens; dunes; dunes paraboliques; antecedents de sedimentation; milieu sédimentaire; sédimentologie
Illustrationslocation maps; plots; tables; aerial photographs
ProgrammeGestionn aire de programme - sciences de changements climatiques, Géosciences de changements climatiques
Résumé(disponible en anglais seulement)
Between 1857 and 1860 the British North American Expedition, led by Captain John Palliser, explored and surveyed the Canadian Prairies primarily to establish its suitability for agriculture and settlement. Historical and paleoclimate records indicate the Expedition coincided with below normal precipitation, leading to the perception of an arid or semi-arid region that would 'forever be comparatively useless' for agriculture. Today, this part of the Canadian Prairies is known as the Palliser Triangle, and is Canada's productive dryland agricultural region. Here we present historic, geomorphologic, and chronometric evidence to reconstruct the landscape encountered by the Expedition. We contend that Palliser's perception of the region was strongly influenced by his experience travelling through active sand dunes in the Middle Sand Hills of southeastern Alberta. At present, the dunes are entirely stabilized by vegetation, in contrast to Palliser's report of 'miles of burning sand'. Archival aerial photographs and optical ages of near-surface samples are used to reconstruct the landscape encountered by the Expedition in the Middle Sand Hills. Optical ages of presently stabilized sand dunes date primarily to between ad 1850 and 1934, peaking in c. ad 1925, and are indicative of a dune field undergoing reduction in activity, prior to the onset of 20th century droughts. Ages of interdune sand sheets further attest to regional dune activity occurring at least since ad 1750, concurrent with activity in other southern Canadian Prairie dune fields. Collectively, this evidence supports observations by Palliser of severe travelling due to bare sand conditions in 1857-1859. These conditions and Palliser's inference of their extent influenced his perception of a 'central desert', thus delaying construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway along a southern route and postponing the westward colonization of Canada.
GEOSCAN ID291858