Abstract

Molluscs, sediment lithology, and published sub-bottom profiles are used to deduce sea levels, outline the influence of glacially induced crustal displacement, and reconstruct the paleoenvironment of the northeast Pacific late Quaternary coastline. Geo-spatial modelling shows subaerially exposed land that could have been inhabited by plants and animals, and also coastally migrating early North American peoples. Ice-free terrain, present by at least 13 790 ± 150 14C years BP, a land bridge, and edible molluscs are identified. Queen Charlotte Islands (QCI) late Pleistocene coastal paleogeography may assist in explaining the biogeography of many terrestrial plant and animal species along the broader northeastern Pacific margin and provide evidence for researchers seeking late Pleistocene – early Holocene glacial refugia. Late Pleistocene – early Holocene coastlines that are not drowned and that may harbour early archaeological sites are identified along the western QCI, where migrants probably first travelled and the westernmost British Columbia mainland, where the effects of glacial ice were reduced.

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