Upper Cretaceous paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the gateway between the Boreal and Western Interior Seas: The Boundary Creek and Smoking Hills Formations, NWT
Principal Investigator: Schroder-Adams, Claudia J. (1)
Licence Number: 15085
Organization: Carleton University
Licensed Year(s): 2012
Issued: Jun 13, 2012
Project Team: Claudia Schroder-Adams (Principal Investigator, Carleton University), Michel Desjardins (M.Sc. student, Carleton University), Thomas Cullen (M.Sc. student, Carleton University)

Objective(s): To improve the existing biostratigraphic framework with chronostratigraphic dates based on bentonite sampling in order to narrow down the duration of the unconformities and to improve the stratigraphic framework of this region and our understanding of the paleoenvironmental setting of a Cretaceous aged oceanographic gateway between the Boreal Sea and the Western Interior Sea that flooded large parts of North America.

Project Description: The main objective of this research project is to improve the stratigraphic framework of the Cretaceous Western Interior Sea region and the understanding of the paleoenvironmental setting of a Cretaceous aged oceanographic gateway between the Boreal Sea and the Western Interior Sea that flooded large parts of North America.

The proposed localities have the type section of the two targeted formations, which means that the original description is based on the exposures in these outcrops. The research team will remeasure the thickness of each section, note characters of the sediment, fossil occurrences etc. In addition, sediment samples will be taken in regular intervals, about one small ziplock bag in size for microfossil and geochemical analyses. The team will also pay attention to ash beds. Those analyses will take place in laboratories back in Ottawa. The research team is small and will leave no long lasting trace on the land.

This research is part of a multiyear project addressing the Cretaceous Period as exposed in Canada’s North. The Cretaceous (144 to 65 Million years ago) was a time of global warm temperatures and high sea level resulting in flooding of large parts of North America. A better understanding of the Cretaceous Arctic gives us a vision of what might be ahead if global warming continues at the present rate. Phases of marine inundation as result of ice melt and tectonism are documented in marine sediment distribution and fossil content. This work reconstructs these settings by developing a multifossil biostratigraphic framework so that regions can be correctly correlated, locates paleoshorelines and looks at paleoenvironmental changes throughout the Cretaceous Period. Other areas that have been sampled within this project and will be correlated to are the Eagle Plain (Yukon), Ellef Ringnes Island and Axel Heiberg Island. The proposed region locates at the gateway between the Cretaceous Boreal Ocean to the North and the Western Interior Sea to the South where faunal migration took place during phases of high sea level. However, in times of low sea level and tectonic uplift the opening might have closed having a profound influence on paleoecological settings of the Western Interior Seaway.

Results will be published in scientific journals and made available after completion to all interested parties. The research team would be pleased to give presentations in other formats in order to reach a wider group of interested parties. For example a poster and powerpoint presentation can be prepared for use in schools tailored to specific age groups. Telecommunication can be used to involve the researcher in giving such presentations, and they would be glad to present to a northern community. A dialogue will be started with the communities in order to decide what route would be most fruitful.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 17, 2012 to July 29, 2012.