Abstract

The Fraser River delta, which is about 1000 km2 in area above low tide level, has been built into the Strait of Georgia in southwestern British Columbia during the Holocene. Present-day sedimentary environments, including foreslope, tidal flat, river channel, floodplain, and bog, also existed earlier during the delta's development. Borehole data reveal a succession of sedimentary environments related to Holocene progradation of the delta south and west of New Westminster. At each site, marine basin and distal foreslope sediments are overlain by proximal foreslope materials, which in turn are overlain by coarser intertidal platform and channel deposits capped by floodplain and bog sediments.Initial growth of the Fraser Delta was preceded both by deglaciation of the region and by the rapid westward extension of the Fraser River floodplain down a partially submerged, glacially scoured trough east of New Westminster. Irregularities on the trough floor were covered by fluvial, deltaic, marine, and lacustrine sediments as the floodplain extended westward. About 10 000 years ago, the Fraser River began to empty directly into the Strait of Georgia through a gap in the Pleistocene uplands at New Westminster. A delta was constructed south and west from this site as the sea dropped below its present level relative to the land. Deltaic progradation continued after sea level stabilized at about −12 m elevation after 8000 years BP. A marine transgression between 7000–7500 and 5000–5500 years ago inundated parts of the Fraser proto-delta and temporarily inhibited its seaward advance. This transgression ended with the sea perhaps 1 or 2 m below its present position, whereupon a large area of the delta became emergent and large bogs began to form. During the remainder of the Holocene, the Fraser Delta grew westward, but apparently not southward, under a regime of relatively stable sea levels.

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