Skip to main content Accessibility help

Canyon Creek: A Late Pleistocene Vertebrate Locality in Interior Alaska

  • Florence R. Weber (a1), Thomas D. Hamilton (a2), David M. Hopkins (a2), Charles A. Repenning (a2) and Herbert Haas (a3)...


The Canyon Creek vertebrate-fossil locality is an extensive road cut near Fairbanks that exposes sediments that range in age from early Wisconsin to late Holocene. Tanana River gravel at the base of the section evidently formed during the Delta Glaciation of the north-central Alaska Range. Younger layers and lenses of fluvial sand are interbedded with arkosic gravel from Canyon Creek that contains tephra as well as fossil bones of an interstadial fauna about 40,000 years old. Solifluction deposits containing ventifacts, wedge casts, and rodent burrows formed during a subsequent period of periglacial activity that took place during the maximum phase of Donnelly Glaciation about 25,000–17,000 years ago. Overlying sheets of eolian sand are separated by a 9500-year-old paleosol that may correlate with a phase of early Holocene spruce expansion through central Alaska. The Pleistocene fauna from Canyon Creek consists of rodents (indicated by burrows), Mammuthus primigenius (woolly mammoth), Equus lambei (Yukon wild ass), Camelops hesternus (western camel), Bison sp. cf. B. crassicornis (large-horned bison), Ovis sp. cf.O. dalli (mountain sheep), Canis sp. cf. C. lupus (wolf), Lepus sp. cf. L. othus or L. arcticus (tundra hare), and Rangifer sp. (caribou). This assemblage suggests an open landscape in which trees and tall shrubs were either absent or confined to sheltered and moist sites. Camelops evidently was present in eastern Beringia during the middle Wisconsin interstadial interval but may have disappeared during the following glacial episode. The stratigraphic section at Canyon Creek appears to demonstrate that the Delta Glaciation of the north-central Alaska Range is at least in part of early Wisconsin age and was separated from the succeeding Donnelly Glaciation by an interstadial rather than interglacial episode.



Hide All
Ager, T.A. (1975). Late Quaternary environmental history of the Tanana Valley, Alaska. Ohio State University Institute of Polar Studies 117(Columbus, Ohio) Rept. 54
Ager, T.A. (1981). Holocene pollen and sediment record from the Tangle Lakes area, central Alaska. Palynology 5. 8598.
Blackwell, J.M. (1965). Surficial geology and geomorphology of the Harding Lake area, Big Delta quadrangle, Alaska. M. S. thesis. University of Alaska 91
Guthrie, R.D. (1968). Paleoecology of the large mammal community in interior Alaska during the late Pleistocene. American Midland Naturalist 79. 346363.
Hamilton, T.D. (1976). Camp Century δO18 record vs. dated climatic records from Alaska and Siberia American Quaternary Association, Abstracts of 4th Biennial MeetingTempe, Arizona, October, 1976Arizona State University 2225.
Harington, C.R. (1977). Pleistocene mammals of the Yukon Territory. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Alberta, Edmonton 1060
Harington, C.R. (1978). Quaternary vertebrate faunas of Canada and Alaska and their suggested chronological sequence. Syllogeus 15 National Museums of Canada 105
Hassan, A.A., Ortner, D.J. (1977). Inclusions in bone material as a source of error in radiocarbon dating. Archaeometry 19. 131135.
Hassan, A.A., Hare, P.E. (1978). Amino acid analysis in radiocarbon dating of bone collagen. Adv. in Chemistry Ser. 171. Archaeological Chemistry 11. 109116.
Haynes, C.V., Haas, H. (1974). Southern Methodist University radiocarbon date list I. Radiocarbon 16. 368380.
Hopkins, D.M., Smith, P.A., Matthews, J.V. Jr. (1981). Dated wood from Alaska and the Yukon—Implications for forest refugia in Beringia. Quaternary Research 15. 217249.
Matthews, J.V. Jr. (1974). Wisconsin environment of interior Alaska—Pollen and macrofossil analysis of a 27 meter core from the Isabella basin (Fairbanks, Alaska). Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 11. 828841.
Matthews, J.V. Jr. (1980). Possible evidence of an early Wisconsinan warm interstadial in east Beringia American Quaternary Association, Abstracts and Program, 6th Biennial MeetingOrono, Maine, August 1980University of Maine Institute for Quaternary Studies 130131206 pp.
Matthews, J.V. Jr. (1981). Beringia during late Pleistocene: Arctic steppe or discontinuous herb tundra?. InPaleoecology of Beringia.” (Hopkins, D.M., Matthews, J.V. Jr., Schweger, C.E., Young, S.B., Eds.). Academic Press, New York(in press)
Nakao, , Kinshiro, . (1980). InClimatic changes in the interior Alaska—Report of the Alaskan Paleolimnology Research Project—1977/78/79. Hokkaido University Department of Geophysics, Laboratory of Hydrology 77
Pe´we´, T.L. (1965). Middle Tanana River valley. InGuidebook for Field Conference F, Central and South-Central Alaska.” (Pe´we´, T.L., Ferrians, O.J. Jr., Nichols, D.R., Karlstrom, T.N.V., Eds.), pp. 3654. International Association for Quaternary Research, 7th Congress, U.S.A. 1965. Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Pe´we´, T.L. (1975a). Quaternary geology of Alaska. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 835. 145
Pe´we´, T.L. (1975b). Quaternary stratigraphic nomenclature in unglaciated central Alaska. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 862. 32
Pe´we´, T.L., Holmes, G.W. (1964). Geology of the Mt. Hayes D-4 quadrangle, Alaska. U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Geologic Investigations Map I-394scale 1:63,360, 2 sheets
Porter, , Lee, . (1979). Ecology of a late Pleistocene (Wisconsin) ungulate community near Jack Wade, east-central Alaska. M.S. thesis. University of Washington, Seattle 85
Rampton, V. (1971). Late Quaternary vegetational and climatic history of the Snag-Klutlan area, south-western Yukon Territory, Canada. Geological Society of America Bulletin 82. 959978.
Ten Brink, N.W., Ritter, D.F. (1980). Glacial chronology of the north-central Alaska Range and implications for discovery of Early-Man sites. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 12. 534
Wahrhaftig, C. (1965). Physiographic divisions of Alaska. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 482. 52


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed