New approaches to the underwater archaeology of Hecate Strait, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia

Author(s): Quentin Mackie; Colton Vogelaar; Daryl Fedje

Year: 2017


Archaeological investigation of the possible coastal route into the Americas has always been hindered by sea level changes, including the drowning of much of the Pleistocene coastal plain. While it is now understood that significant portions of the coastal plain were never drowned, it is also clear that some of the underwater terrestrial landscape is intact and has archaeological potential. New approaches to the survey and modelling of paleocoastlines may increase optimism of finding underwater coastal sites. In this paper we discuss underwater research on the seafloor of Hecate Strait, near Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. Swath bathymetry reveals intact landforms up to 145 metres depth, confirmed by grab-samples of in situ plants and intertidal fauna. Local archaeological sites put people on the landscape by ca. 12,700 cal. BP, when sea levels were 100 metres lower than modern, and bears and salmon are locally present by >14,000 cal BP. In this poster we discuss use of an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle to obtain high-resolution sidescan sonar of the seafloor. We also demonstrate some approaches in paleocoastal modelling which may help predict site location and recovery of archaeological materials from the deeply-drowned landscape.

Cite this Record

New approaches to the underwater archaeology of Hecate Strait, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. Quentin Mackie, Colton Vogelaar, Daryl Fedje. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431583)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -169.717; min lat: 42.553 ; max long: -122.607; max lat: 71.301 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16658