Long Term Ecological Research naturally includes a consideration of changes to the surface of the Earth have influenced and continue to influence all aspects of landscape.
A few topics cry out for study at Hakai::
- Past Sea Levels and Coastal Landscape Change.
- History of Glaciation on Calvert Island.
Past Sea Levels and Coastal Landscape Change
Led by geographers Ian J. Walker (University of Victoria) and Olav B. Lian (University of the Fraser Valley).
The proposed research will evaluate the influence of regional neotectonics, isostasy, and resultant changes in relative sea levels on the coastal geomorphology of northwest Calvert Island, British Columbia. This research will explore a relatively under-studied region of the British Columbia coast and hosts habitats and landforms (e.g., relict dunes and shorelines) suitable for recording past sea levels and environmental changes. The site is located near the outlet of Rivers Inlet, where multi-year research programs to assess ecosystem productivity are established. Furthermore, the study site is within close proximity to the Hakai Institute, which offers many logistical advantages, and the research will provide fundamental information (e.g., detailed LiDAR base maps, digital georeferenced orthophotography, geomorphic mapping, and interpretation) that will be highly useful for institutional planning and management, subsequent research and teaching activities, and development of interpretation and outreach materials. Results from this study will also provide sound basis for comparison to similar research on Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii and perhaps shed new light on regional differences in relative sea level changes and coastal landscape responses.
Proposed methods include analysis of airborne LiDAR, nearshore bathymetry, and georeferenced aerial photography; ground penetrating radar (GPR) and ground surveys along representative transects; stratigraphic and sedimentological data from vibracores and/or soil pits collected from dunes and ponds; coastal stratigraphy preserved in outcrops; paleoecology of pond and wetland deposits; and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of organic material and sand particles, respectively. Known target areas include a sequence of dunes on the north end of West Beach that reflect higher sea levels in the past; ponds and wetlands between West and North Beaches that may record sea-level transgressions and regressions; ponds that span an elevation gradient from near sea level to several hundred meters above sea level; and stratigraphy exposed along North Beach (Figure 1). Paleoecological examination of lake and wetland deposits to identify abrupt deposition events from tsunamis and extreme storms, and to determine when lakes or wetlands were occupied and/or abandoned by the ocean as relative sea levels changed will also be explored.
History of Glaciation on Calvert Island
This project is currently under development.
While at Hakai in May 2012, John Clague (Simon Fraser University) found a sequence of Pleistocene (Ice Age) silts and sands containing plant fossils on the West Beach shoreline near the Institute. The fossiliferous sediments are overlain by glacial sediments (outwash gravel and till) deposited during the last glaciation, about 15,000-20,000 years ago. At the peak of glaciation, Calvert Island was covered by more than 1 km of glacier ice. The plant fossils will be radiocarbon dated at the University of California, Davis, in the fall of 2012. Rolf Mathewes (Simon Fraser University) will likely analyze the fossils.
We hope these observations will spark further interest and a more definitive study of the glacial history of Calvert and Hecate Islands. Likely candidates to pursue such research are Jordan Eamer, Dan Shugar and Ian Walker (University of Victoria).