Exploration for fossil vertebrates and wood on Banks Island, Northwest Territories

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, geology, fossils

Principal Investigator: Eberle, Jaelyn J (3)
Licence Number: 14742
Organization: University of Colorado
Licenced Year(s): 2010 2004 2003
Issued: Jun 24, 2010
Project Team: David Eberth (stratigrapher, Royal Tyrrell Museum, Alberta), J. Howard Hutchison (paleontologist, UCMP Berkeley), Bill Hagopian (geobiologist and field tech, University of Hawaii), Sabine Mehay (geochemist and field tech, Mass. Instit. of Technology MIT), Unnamed Park patrol person (bear and fieldwork monitor, someone from Sachs Harbour)

Objective(s): To refine the age and ancient environments of fossil-bearing rocks comprising the Eureka Sound Group on Banks Island, allowing correlation to fossil-bearing rocks in the eastern Arctic; and to provide insight into paleoclimate by studying the fossil plants and animals, and using isotope analyses of fossil wood and sediments in the lab.

Project Description: The research objective is to explore early Eocene deposits on northern Banks Island, in search of fossil vertebrates and wood. The goals are to: (1) refine the age and ancient environments of fossil-bearing rocks comprising the Eureka Sound Group on Banks Island, allowing correlation to fossil-bearing rocks in the eastern Arctic; and (2) provide insight into paleoclimate by studying the fossil plants and animals, and using isotope analyses of fossil wood and sediments in the lab.

A two-week field season (July 19 – Aug 1, 2010) is planned to explore Eocene-aged deposits on northern Banks Island. Transportation support is from the Polar Continental Shelf Project (PCSP) facility at Resolute to northern Banks Island, as well as camp moves around the island, will be by twin otter and helicopter operated by the PCSP. Staging will be from Resolute Bay and Sachs Harbour, and is dependent upon the PCSP’s schedule for the western Arctic in 2010.

With regard to fossil sites, small fossils are primarily collected from the surface by hand, and minimal digging is below the surface is required. Consequently, there is little disturbance of the ground, and the environmental impacts are small. All fossil localities will be marked on a map and air photo, and GPS coordinates will be taken.

The researcher plans to publish discoveries and subsequent laboratory analyses in scientific journals, and present the research results at scientific meetings. The researcher will also submit a report to the Western Arctic Field Unit of Parks Canada that summarizes the field research on Banks Island. Presentations on the research can be scheduled at elementary schools and museums in Northwest Territories (in particular, the community of Sachs Harbour).

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 19, 2010 to August 1, 2010.