Abstract

The relatively subdued topography of British Columbia’s northern interior plains does not reflect the irregular, buried bedrock surface. Many areas have been deeply incised by preglacial rivers that have subsequently filled with a succession of Quaternary sediments. In this study, oil and gas petrophysical logs, drill chip samples, water well logs, and surficial and bedrock outcrop maps were used to model the bedrock topography of the Fontas map sheet (NTS 94I). The modelled data produced several depressions that are interpreted to be paleovalleys incised into the soft Cretaceous shale of the Fort St. John Group. Understanding the geometry, thickness, and stratigraphy of the drift has considerable safety and resource management implications as artesian aquifers and natural gas were encountered in the drift during oil and gas well drilling. Four major paleovalleys are suggested. The most dominant paleovalley (Kotcho–Hoffard Paleovalley) is located south of the Etsho Plateau and trends west-southwest across the map area. A second depression occurs within the loop of the Hay River and may be a tributary of the Kotcho–Hoffard Paleovalley that links with the Rainbow Paleovalley in Alberta. A third paleovalley is mapped south of the Sahtaneh River (Kyklo Creek Paleovalley) and is either a tributary to, or crosscuts the Kotcho–Hoffard Paleovalley. The Niteal Creek Paleovalley is located between the Fontas and Sikanni Chief rivers. Its geometry is speculative as there are sparse data, but it may be a tributary of the Kotcho–Hoffard Paleovalley.

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