, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 217–227 | Cite as

1,000-year record of landslide dams at Halden Creek, northeastern British Columbia

  • Marten Geertsema
  • John J. Clague
Original Article


Large, rapid, low-gradient landslides are common in clay-rich glacial sediments in northeastern British Columbia. Many of the landslides create upstream impoundments that may persist for years in small watersheds in the region. We have documented such events in the Halden Creek watershed, 60 km southeast of Fort Nelson. The events are recorded geologically in two ways. First, trees are drowned in lakes dammed by the landslides and subsequently buried by deltaic sediments, where they are protected from decay. Bank erosion later exhumes the drowned trees. Second, landslide deposits with entrained wood are exposed along stream banks. We have reconstructed the recent history of landslide damming at Halden Creek by performing radiocarbon dating on exhumed trees and wood in and beneath landslide deposits at 13 sites in the watershed. Drowned trees range in age from 169±59 to 274±49 14C year bp. Wood in and below landslide deposits yielded radiocarbon ages ranging from modern to 965±49 14C year bp.


Landslide dam Drowned forest Landslide Radiocarbon dating Canada British Columbia Halden Creek Fort Nelson 



The project was funded by the British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range and Forest Renewal British Columbia. We thank Ljiljana Knezevic, Chad Seigel, and Barbara Wohlfarth for assistance in the field. Theo van Asch, Rens van Beek, and Steven de Jong reviewed an early draft of this manuscript. Mauri McSaveney and an anonymous referee reviewed the paper for the journal. Sean Barry, Marlene Flannery, and Richard Franklin drafted the figures.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research GeomorphologistB.C. Ministry of Forests and RangePrince GeorgeCanada
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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