Palaeontology of the Summit Creek Formation, western Northwest Territories, Canada

Regions: Sahtu Settlement Area

Tags: physical sciences, sediment, fossils, paleontology, stratigraphy, biodiversity

Principal Investigator: Vavrek, Matthew J (3)
Licence Number: 15132
Organization: Royal Ontario Museum
Licensed Year(s): 2012
Issued: Jul 30, 2012
Project Team: Dr. David C. Evans (Co-Principal Investigator, Royal Ontario Museum), Dr. Hans C.E. Larsson (Project Collaborator, McGill University), Caleb M. Brown (Graduate Student, University of Toronto)

Objective(s): To do prospecting for and collection of Cretaceous fossils from the Summit Creek Formation in order to better understand what terrestrial biodiversity was like at high latitudes at that time.

Project Description: The research team will be prospecting for and collecting Cretaceous fossils from the Summit Creek Formation in order to better understand what terrestrial biodiversity was like at high latitudes at that time. This project is a continuation of the collaborative research program on ancient biodiversity in the Canadian Arctic. Recently, the research team completed work supported by Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP) in the Bonnet Plume Basin in northeastern Yukon Territory, during which the research team recovered both new vertebrate (dinosaur) fossils as well as a new Paleogene plant macrofossil locality. The Summit Creek Formation is a logical place for the research program to now focus, as it provides a transitional point between the work in the Yukon Territory and the more southern deposits of Alberta, Saskatchewan and the western United States.


Most of the work will be exploratory in nature, searching for new fossil localities in the area. Any fossils that are found will be marked with a GPS receiver, and recorded in field notebooks as to type and condition of fossils, location, stratigraphic horizon, and local sedimentary conditions. Any fossils on the surface that can be safely collected from the surface will be, and collected fossils will be placed in either in collecting bags, or in very small, vials. Any fossils that can be excavated using only small hand tools (i.e. awls, trowels, rock hammers) will also be collected. Fossils that are too large or cannot be adequately stabilized will be covered in situ to prevent further degradation from erosion, so that they can be collected during a future phase of the project.


The work will help to better understand the paleontological resources within this portion of the Sahtu Settlement Area. The fossils from this area can help us to understand how changing climates at high latitudes may have affected species diversity in the past and how ecosystems may respond in the future.


Previous paleontological work the research team has done in the Arctic has attracted the attention of local news outlets, and the research team will attempt to publicize the importance of this continuing work in the Arctic, highlighting the importance of northern field regions to the understanding of biodiversity through time.


The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 30, 2012 to August 24, 2012.