Skip to page content

A Journey to a New Land

Multimedia Library

Dr. John Clague

Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Kame Terraces

The terrace on which the McCallum archaeological site is located is called a kame terrace – this is a geological term for a surface (or terrace) that formed against a former ice margin. It is not a typical river terrace. It’s a surface that was built up against a former glacier due to the deposition of sand and gravel and silt by streams that were flowing along the edge of the glacier.

In this case the glacier was out in the middle of the valley, and the valley wall that I am standing on was the backstop for that, so there was a little area sort of between the decaying ice and the valley wall (which at that time was free of ice) in which the sediment, the sand and gravel, would accumulate. As it built up, the ice melted away, leaving this remnant – this reasonably flat or gently sloping surface that is elevated above the lower ground where the glacier formerly sat.

That’s the framework or underpinning for the McCallum site. The fact that this was deposited at the margin of a glacier results in this feature being elevated above the surrounding ground and being a favoured site for people to live.