Relict Shoreline Identification using Lidar in the Lesser Slave Lake Region

I’ve submitted a poster for the upcoming CAA conference in Whitehorse, Yukon in May. Check out my abstract and check back for research updates on our blog!

Advances in remote sensing technologies and industry-driven initiatives have precipitated the wide scale production of lidar-derived digital elevation datasets in Alberta. These high-precision terrain models have been instrumental for cultural resource management strategies and the identification of new archaeological sites in the province. Lidar has proven to be extremely useful in targeting of distinct landforms and topographic features present on the landscape, and in the development of archaeological predictive models. While most lidar analyses for archaeological site predictions are focused on the modern landscape, these datasets can also be used to identify ancient landforms that may have been more suitable for human habitation in the distant past. Review of lidar data from the Lesser Slave Lake region in northern Alberta revealed numerous strandlines, meltwater channels, and relict beaches related to changing levels of proglacial lakes in the lake basin. These previously unmapped topographic features reveal a fluctuating landscape during the early period of human occupation in the province, and provide an opportunity to identify potential locations of ancient sites around the Lesser Slave Lake basin. A combination of reconstructions of proglacial lake levels using strandline elevations and current predictive modeling techniques was used to identify locations reflective of this past landscape with high archaeological potential for sites. This information will be used to direct future surveys in the region, to identify archaeological sites that might otherwise have been missed by cultural resource management programs.

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Author: Reid Graham

Reid J. Graham is an Archaeologist with Tree Time Services Inc. in Edmonton, where he carries out Historic Resources Impact Assessments for Forestry projects in Northern and Central Alberta. Reid is a recent graduate from the University of Alberta, where he completed a Master of Arts in Anthropology. In his thesis, Reid explored the relationships between the Besant Phase and the Sonota Complex, two interconnected Late Precontact cultures on the Northern Plains. He completed a Honours Degree in Anthropology at the University of Winnipeg in 2011, and has worked at archaeological projects in all over Western North America, including Upper Fort Gary in Winnipeg, the Quarry of the Ancestors north of Fort McMurry, and the Promontory Caves in Utah. Reid has also participated in numerous mitigation projects in Alberta and Ontario. His current research interests include Northern Plains archaeological research, GIS analysis, communal bison hunting, and inter-group relationships.

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