Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory

Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, K7L 3N6, Canada

Prehistoric Inuit Whalers Affected Arctic Freshwater Ecosystems

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Thule Pictures

Coring Operations:

Using a Glew Gravity Corer (developed at PEARL) to collect a vertical sample of lake sediments which can be extruded into slices for discrete samples.
Photo: J.P. Smol

Extruding a sediment core:

The vertical sediment core is extruded into slices which correspond to discrete time intervals.  Preserved in this mud is an archive of information (such as microscopic diatoms) that can be used to interpret past environmental conditions at each "slice" or interval.
Photo: J.P. Smol




cyclotella comensis Diatoms: microscopic algae as environmental indicators
These are three highly magnified images of freshwater diatom microfossils.  These siliceous (or glass-walled) algae are abundant and diverse components of the biota of most lakes, ponds, and rivers.  As their cell walls are made of silica (or glass), they preserve well in lake sediments.  Different species are characteristic of different types of environments and the abundance of different species in the lake sediments can be used to determine past environmental conditions.  By looking at many layers of lake sediments (the slices from a core) environmental changes over time can be determined.

The diatom at left is a Cyclotella sp.  Photo : K.M. Ruhland

This diatom is a Diploneis sp.
Photo : K.M. Ruhland

navicula gastrum
This diatom is a Navicula sp.  Photo:
K.M. Ruhland

thule house This photograph is of a Thule overwintering site, as reconstructed by the Canadian Museum of Civilization. It is situated at Resolute Bay, Cornwallis Island, Nunavut, which is north of the Somerset Island site described in this paper. (Photo by: J.P. Smol)

bones under water  Whale bones under water.
Photo: J.P. Smol

Unexcavated Thule whale bone dwelling, Bathurst Island, which is north of the site described in this paper. Dwelling roof support of whale bones has collapsed. Allen P. McCartney provides scale. (Photo by J.M. Savelle)


Excavated Thule whale bone dwelling at PaJs-13, Hazard Inlet, Somerset Island, showing abundant whale bone used in original dwelling construction. Cored pond is at upper left of photograph. (Photo by: Junko Habu)

Related Links

Thule Culture (at Archeological Survey of Canada )

Marianne S.V. Douglas ,
Canadian Circumpolar Institute

John P. Smol , Queen's University - web link

James M. Savelle , McGill University - web link

Jules M. Blais , University of Ottawa - web link

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