Abstract

A map of reconstructed Eocene physiography and drainage directions is presented for the southern Interior Plateau region, British Columbia south of 53°N. Eocene landforms are inferred from the distribution and depositional paleoenvironment of Eocene rocks and from crosscutting relationships between regional-scale geomorphology and bedrock geology of known age. Eocene drainage directions are inferred from physiography, relief, and base level elevations of the sub-Eocene unconformity and the documented distribution, provenance, and paleocurrents of early Cenozoic fluvial sediments. The Eocene landscape of the southern Interior Plateau resembled its modern counterpart, with highlands, plains, and deeply incised drainages, except regional drainage was to the north. An anabranching valley system trending west and northwest from Quesnel and Shuswap Highlands, across the Cariboo Plateau to the Fraser River valley, contained north-flowing streams from Eocene to early Quaternary time. Other valleys dating back at least to Middle Eocene time include the North Thompson valley south of Clearwater, Thompson valley from Kamloops to Spences Bridge, the valley containing Nicola Lake, Bridge River valley, and Okanagan Lake valley. During the early Cenozoic, highlands existed where the Coast Mountains are today. Southward drainage along the modern Fraser, Chilcotin, and Thompson River valleys was established after the Late Miocene.

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