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Archaeological Site Vulnerability Modelling: The Influence of High Impact Storm Events on Models of Shoreline Erosion in the Western Canadian Arctic

Michael J. E. O’Rourke
Published Online: 2017-03-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2017-0001


Much of the Inuvialuit archaeological record is situated along shorelines of the western Canadian Arctic. These coastal sites are at substantial risk of damage due to a number of geomorphological processes at work in the region. The identification of threatened heritage remains is critical in the Mackenzie Delta, where landscape changes are taking place at an increasingly rapid pace. This paper outlines some preliminary observations from a research program directed toward identifying vulnerable archaeological remains within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. Coastal erosion rates have been calculated for over 280 km of the Kugmallit Bay shoreline, extending along the eastern extent of Richards Island and neighbouring areas of the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula. Helicopter surveys conducted during the 2014 field season confirmed that areas exposed to heavy erosive forces in the past continue to erode at alarming rates. Some of the calculated rates, however, have proven far too conservative. An extreme period of erosion at Toker Point in the autumn of 2013 has yielded a prime example of how increasingly volatile weather patterns can influence shoreline erosion models. It has also provided a case with which to demonstrate the value of using more recent, shorter time-interval imagery in assessing impacts to cultural landscapes.

Keywords: Archaeological site management; vulnerability mapping; coastal erosion; geographic information systems; (GIS)


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About the article

Received: 2015-11-30

Accepted: 2017-02-17

Published Online: 2017-03-03

Published in Print: 2017-01-26

Citation Information: Open Archaeology, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 1–16, ISSN (Online) 2300-6560, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2017-0001.

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© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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