The Fossils, Fauna and Flora of Ellesmere Island
Speaker: Lisa Bohach, Ph. D., P. Geol., Stantec Consulting Ltd.
Time: 7:30 pm
Date: April 21, 2017
Location: Mount Royal University, Room B108
The high arctic ecosystem of Ellesmere Island is a place of extremes. With 24 hours of daylight in the summer followed by 24 hours of darkness in the winter, average daytime temperatures over the year range from a high of 9°C in July to a low of -33°C in January. Annual precipitation is low, creating a high arctic desert. Limited areas of vegetation grow, bloom and seed out within the short spring and summer, which is compressed into a six-week period. This is an ideal landscape for fossil hunting.
Past ecosystems were vastly different. Much of Ellesmere Island was covered by the ocean during the Cretaceous, leaving behind marine reptile and invertebrate fossils. Ocean levels dropped during the Paleocene along the Fosheim Peninsula, creating barrier island and estuarine environments, followed by delta plains. These strata contain an abundance of plant fossils, including fields of petrified/coalified stumps and compressed, mummified layers of leaf litter. The fossils indicate that a rich, high-arctic forest existed in the Paleocene and Eocene, which persisted through to the late Pliocene. Evidence of Tertiary animal life is extremely sparse along the Fosheim Peninsula with a better, although still sparse, record farther south in the Strathcona Fiord area.
During the peak of the Quaternary glacial advances, all of Ellesmere Island was covered by ice. The remnants of this continental ice sheet still occur in central portions of Ellesmere Island. Thick regressional sequences of sediment were deposited along the margins of the island during the Holocene. Isostatic rebound lifted the land surface during the early Holocene leaving the oldest shoreline fossil and archaeological assemblages at higher elevations than their more recent counterparts.
Lisa Bohach has a B.Sc. degree from the University of Alberta and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Victoria. Since 2001, and she has worked as a palaeontological consultant in Canada, providing assessment and construction monitoring services for industrial development.
This event is presented jointly by the Alberta Palaeontological Society, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Mount Royal University, and the Palaeontology Division of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists. For details or to present a talk in the future, please contact CSPG Palaeontology Division Chair Jon Noad at firstname.lastname@example.org or APS Coordinator Harold Whittaker at 403-286-0349 or contact email@example.com. Visit the APS website for confirmation of event times and upcoming speakers: http://www.albertapaleo.org/.