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A Journey to a New Land

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Dr. Brent Ward

Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Port Eliza Cave

A good example of a raised sea cave is the Port Eliza Cave which is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Myself and colleagues have done a fair bit of work in the area. We have excavated through these laminated clays that represent ice cover during the last glaciation, and exposed what we feel is the floor of the cave before the ice covered the area. We have taken numerous samples from that material and found quite a wide assemblage of bones from different types of animals. Based on that were able to reconstruct what we think the environment was like at a time period from approximately 18,000 – 16,000 years ago. What we are seeing is that the environment wasn’t a cold barren tundra, such as you might get around the present Greenland ice sheet, but it appears to be a much more amenable environment with a mix of forest and open areas and probably enough nutrients that if people could have made it to the Port Eliza Cave by 16,000 years ago, they likely would have been able to survive in that environment.