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The churchill river reindeer river area evolution of the landscape

The churchill river reindeer river area evolution of the landscape

Musk Ox (15): 10-29

The landscape of the Churchill-Reindeer Rivers area [Canada] has an ancient and complex history dating back to early Precambrian times, 2 billion yr ago or more. At that time an ocean existed, with island arcs of volcanoes. Only the most primitive of unicellular life existed in these waters. There was no life on land. A landscape similar to that of the Rocky Mountains today was formed, then the mountains were worn down to a plain resembling the Canadian Shield. Sand and gravel were deposited by streams; regional uplift then initiated a long period of erosion. The sea encroached upon the land in early Paleozoic time. Sponge-like organisms, corals and other invertebrates thrived, and fishes appeared. Toward the end of this time of ocean coverage, plants and animals appeared on adjacent land. Late in the Devonian Period, Saskatchewan became land and remained so for hundreds of millions of years. Erosion removed evidence of land deposits along with fossil plants and animals. During the Cretaceous almost the whole of Saskatchewan was covered by an ocean. The sediments then laid down were stripped off the Precambrian basement during the Tertiary Period. The ancestral Churchill River eroded its way into the underlying Precambrian rocks. Before Pleistocene glaciation set in, the Churchill, had a normal stream valley in its upper reaches lying on Cretaceous and Paleozoic rocks not stripped by erosion, a bedrock adjusted middle reach cutting across major structural trends, and a normal lower reach with minimal local bedrock control in the Paleozoic rocks near Hudson Bay. The Pleistocene glaciers flowed over the rocks parallel to the major SW trending Precambrian structures. They converted the valley of the Churchill on the Shield to a string of lakes connected by short channels. As the ice retreated northward about 10,000 yr ago, water became ponded in front of the glacier, and large lakes formed in which clays were deposited. Following the draining of these lakes, plants invaded the area, permafrost developed, and soils began to form. Men reached the Churchill-Reindeer Rivers area about 8000 yr ago.

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