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A Journey to a New Land

Arctic Ground Squirrel
Multimedia Library

Dr. Brent Ward

Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Port Eliza Cave – Working Conditions

The working conditions in the Port Eliza Cave were extremely difficult. I would say that by far it was the most difficult field condition that I have ever been exposed to. The cave itself is not very big in comparison to, say, karst caves. It is less than 100 metres deep, but there is a large pile of talus in the mouth of the cave. So we had to climb down a vertical section that was about 5 meters high which made the access difficult. As soon as we got back from that vertical section, it was completely darkthere was no light whatsoever. All the work was done by flashlight. Because the laminated clays are so fine-grained, there was water ponded in the back of the cave that we tried to pump out of the cave. Of course, when we tried to start to excavate and dig in the cave, the water mixed with the clays producing a very thick sticky mud that caused people to lose boots in it and made taking notes and taking photographs extremely difficult. So I would really discourage anyone from trying to excavate in these caves – as well you could be damaging potentially rich paleoenvironmental or archaeological records that professionals really should be involved in examining.