A PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCES FROM THE ALASKA REGION NATIONAL PARKS

 

Vincent L. Santucci
Department of Parks & Recreation
Slippery Rock University
Slippery Rock, PA 16057

William P. Wall and Alfred Mead
Department of Biology
Georgia College
Milledgeville, GA, 31061
 
 
INTRODUCTION

The National Park Service manages extensive areas within Alaska. Stratigraphically, sedimentary rocks range from the Proterozoic through the recent. Isolated reports suggest a wealth of paleontological resources occurring in some of the Alaskan National Parks. Comprehensive paleontological surveys are difficult due to the vast acreage and limited access. To date, the scope and distribution of paleontological resources in the Alaska Region parks is poorly understood.

This preliminary report is an attempt to summarize the available data for known paleonotological resources in the Alaskan National Parks. Information will continue to be compiled in order to produce a more complete final published report documenting paleontological resources.

A Research Proposal has been submitted along with this report. The proposal is directed towards the establishment of a pilot paleontological resource survey that will initiate in conjunction with the ongoing Alaskan Coastline Resource Surveys.

The objective is to compile paleontological resource baseline data to facilitate both resource management and protection. This information will be valuable in providing baseline fossil resource data for park and regional office staff, as well as for future researchers.

A brief summary of available information is provided for each Alaska Region unit. Lack of available data does not necessary indicate the lack of significant paleontological resources in any of these units. Our hope is to promote greater research interests and expand the understanding of a paleontological resource that will almost certainly to prove to be extensive.

 
ANIAKCHAK NATIONAL MONUMENT

The only known paleontological resources include paleobotanical material discovered in cores of Lake Idavain.
 

BERING LAND BRIDGE NATIONAL PRESERVE

The preserve contains 2.69 million acres of land. The northern Seward Peninsula has not been glaciated for over 100,000 years and has a high potential for paleontological resources. Pleistocene mammal remains, insects, leaves, pollen and coalified wood has been reported from the preserve. Mammoth material has been found including a reference of a juvenile mammoth in the collections at the Colorado School of Mines. Mammoth and walrus ivory is scattered throughout the preserve and is occasionally collected by native americans. A Pleistocene beaver dam is reported from the preserve (Newman, 1978).

Cape Deceit - coastal locality just east of preserve boundary
that contains some of the earliest North American records of
certain species of animals.

Cape Espenberg - coastal site with Pleistocene flora and fauna
including marine fossils preserved during glacial cycles.

Goodhope River - late Pleistocene faunal remains found on
gravel bars along the river including mammoth teeth, tusks,
etc.

Imuruk Lake - rich fossil pollen record from core samples
extend back 100,000 years. The record provides valuable data
regarding vegetational changes during glacial cycles.

Inmachuk & Kugruk Rivers - fossil plant material found in
river gravel below a Pliocene lava provide information on a
warm climate vegetation. Late Tertiary beetles are abundant
at these sites.

Kuzitrin Flats - a gravel deposit spans Miocene through
Pleistocene in age. Older deposits contain fossil pollen and
wood suggesting a temperate forest of hardwoods and conifers.
Younger Pleistocene deposits include mammoth, bison and horse.
Fossil plant associations demonstrate cold and warm climatic
cycles in the late Pleistocene.

Trail Creek - mammoth scapula excavated from cave and radio-
carbon dated at 11,360 + 100 years B.P.
 

DENALI NATIONAL PARK

The current knowledge of paleontological resources at Denali is limited. A collection of paleozoic marine invertebrates and late tertiary plant remains have been curated by park staff. A mammoth tooth was discovered west of Teklanika Ridge. Plant impressions include deciduous leaves such as birch and conifer stems and needles similar to Sequoia. Sites with marine invertebrates have been also reported from areas in the southern portion of the park.
 
 
GATES OF THE ARCTIC NATIONAL PARK & PRESERVE

Numerous fossil deposits occur within this unit. Fossil rich deposits range in age from the Devonian through the Cretaceous. Pleistocene deposits have yielded the remains of fossil bison and mammoth along the Middle Fork Koyukuk River. Devonian invertebrates including coral are located throughout the central Brooks Range and in the center of the park. The Lisburne Limestone (Mississippian/Pennsylvanian) contain brachiopods, corals, crinoids, blastoids, conodonts and occasional trilobites. This limestone is prevalent in the northern part of the park and fossils found along river cuts such as North and Middle Forks of the Koyukuk River. Cretaceous plant fossils have been found in the Fortress Mountain Formation in outcrops of the Castle/Fortress Mountain Unit of the park.

Bombardment Creek - Triassic marine fossils including Monotis
and Halobia occur in the Shublik/Otuk Formation at the base
of Mount Doonerak. Very fossiliferous exposures. Also found
along Monotis Creek.

Karupa Lake - thin layer of Cretaceous limestone with the
round shelled pelecypods Buchia subclaveous are found in
the Okpikruak Formation.

Nigu River - Permian fossils including marine brachiopods,
pelecypods and shark's teeth found in the Siksikpuk Formation
along the river.
 
 
GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK

Information regarding paleontological resources is limited. Curated specimens include mainly marine invertebrates and a few paleobotanical specimens.

Cenotaph Island - numerous marine invertebrate specimens
collected from this island in Lituya Bay.
 
 
KATMAI NATIONAL PARK

Reports of paleontological resources at Katmai are limited, however, there are curated fossils in the park collection. These specimens include invertebrates from Kagayuk Point and from the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Most of the invertebrates are from Late Jurassic (Naknek Formation) and Cretaceous (Kaguyak Formation) exposures.

Kagayuk Point - Upper Cretaceous fossil invertebrates including
Pachydiscus sp. and Inoceramus sp. collected from this site.

Naknek Lake - leaf imprints and petrified wood have been
collected from the lake beach near Brooks Camp.
 
 
KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK

The only record of paleontological resources at Kenai Fjords National Park include accounts of ancient trees preserved in glacial ice.
 
 
LAKE CLARK NATIONAL PARK & PRESERVE

The park contains approximately 2.6 million acres and the preserve contains about 1.4 million acres. A paleontological survey of this unit has not been conducted. A significant Jurassic site is located along the coast called Fossil Point. The site has potential for both marine fossils and Pleistocene remains inland.
 
Fossil Point Jurassic Section - site on west side of Cook Inletabout 56 miles southwest of Kenai. The type locality of the Tuxedni Group begins at Fossil Point with the Red GlacierFormation. Many fossils are present including Grammatodon sp.,Inoceramus lucifer, Oxytoma sp., Comptonectes sp., Thracia sp.,and many others. This faunal assemblage can be correlated with northwest European assemblages (Bajocian through Bathonian). The site is impacted by illegal fossil collecting. Proposed as a National Natural Landmark.
 

WRANGELL-ST. ELIAS NATIONAL PARK & PRESERVE

Devonian through Tertiary sediments are present in the park. The more significant fossil units include: the Permian Mankomen Group limestone with ammonites and brachiopods; the Permian Hansen Creek Limestone with horn corals; the early Cretaceous Chisana Formation with pelecypods; and tertiary coal deposits and plant fossil localities.
 

YUKON-CHARLEY RIVERS NATIONAL PRESERVE

This unit contains a remarkably rich and extensive fossil record ranging from the Proterozoic through the Pleistocene. Vertebrate fossils include ice age mammoth, bison and sheep. Invertebrates and paleobotanical fossils are abundant.
 

MIDDLETON ISLAND NATIONAL NATURAL LANDMARK

This island consists of approximately five square miles and is located in the Gulf of Alaska about 155 miles southwest of Anchorage. Important Plio-Pleistocene fossils occur at this locality. Incorporated into the National Natural Landmark Program.
 
 
REFERENCES
 
Allison, C.W., 1988. Paleontology of Late Proterozoic and Early Cambrian rocks of East-Central Alaska: U.S.G.S., Professional Paper, no. 1449.

Allison, C.W., 1975. Microbiota from the late Proterozoic Tindir Group: Geology, v. 1, p. 65-68.

Allison, C.W., 1975. Primitive fossil flatworn from Alaska, new evidence bearing on ancestry of the Metazoa: Geology, v. 1, p. 649-652.

Armstrong, A.K., 1972. Biostratigraphy of Mississippian lithostrotionoid corals, Lisburne Group, Arctic Alaska:
U.S.G.S., Professional Paper, no. 743-A, 28 p.

Armstrong, A.K. and Bernard, M., 1977. Carboniferous microfacies, microfossils, and corals, Lisburne Group, Arctic Alaska: U.S.G.S., Professional Paper, no. 840, 129p.

Brabb, E.E. and Grant, R.E., 1970. Stratigraphy and Paleontology of the Revised Type Section for the Tahkandit Limestone (Permian) in East-Central Alaska: U.S.G.S., Professional Paper, no.703.

Csejtey, B., et. al., 1986. Geology and Geochronology of the Healy Quadrangle, Alaska: U.S.G.S. Open File Report, no. 86.

Detterman, R.L., and Hartsock, J.K., 1966. Geology of the Iniskin-Tuxedni region, Alaska: U.S.G.S., Professional Paper, no.512, 78p.

Dover, J.H. and Miyaoka, R.T., 1988. Reinterpreted geologic map and fossil data, Charley River Quadrangle, East-Central Alaska: U.S.G.S. Misc. Field Studies Map, MF-2004, 1:250,000.

Gorden, M., 1957. Mississippian Cephalopods of Northern and Eastern Alaska: U.S.G.S Professional Paper, no. 283.

Guthrie, R.D., and Matthews, J.V., 1971. The Cape Deceit Fauna, Early Pleistocene mammalian assemblage from the Alaskan Arctic: Quaternary Research, v. 1, p. 474-510.

Hopkins, D., Matthews, J.V., Schweger, C.E., and Young, S.B., (eds.), 1982. The Paleoecology of Beringia: Academic Press, New York.
Imlay, R.W., and Detterman, R.L., 1974, Jurassic paleobio-geography of Alaska: U.S.G.S. Professional Paper, no.801.

Jones, D.L., and Miller, J.W., 1976. Preliminary Geologic Map of the Alaska Peninsula showing post-Callovian Mesozoic fossil localities: U.S.G.S. Open-File Map 76-76, 2 sheets.

Knoll, A.H., 1975. The paleontology of the proposed Yukon-Charley Rivers area: in The Environment of the Yukon-Charley Rivers Area, The Center for Northern Studies, Wolcott, Vermont.

Miller, J.W., and Jones, D.L., 1981. A Field Guide to some common megafossils from post-Callovian Mesozoic rocks of the Alaskan Peninsula: U.S.G.S. Open-File Report 81-745, 15p.

Miyaoka, R.T., 1990. Fossil locality map and fossil data for the southeastern Charley River Quadrangle, East-Central Alaska: U.S.G.S. Misc. Field Studies Map, MF-2007, scale 1:100,000.

Newman, T. Stell, 1978. Bering Land Bridge: Arctic Causeway to the New World: National Parks and Conservation Magazine, p. 4-9.

Palmer, A.Y., 1968. Cambrian Trilobites of East-Central Alaska: U.S.G.S. Professional Paper, no.559B.

Reed, B.L. and Nelson, S.W., 1980. Geologic map of the Talkeetna Quadrangle, Alaska: U.S.G.S. Misc. Invest. Series Map I-1174.

Savage, N.M., Blodgett, R. and Hermann, J., 1985. Conodonts and associated graptolites from the Late Early Devonian of East-Central Alaska and Western Yukon Territory: Can.J.Ear.Sci., v. 22, p. 1880-1883.

Sohn, I.G., 1971. New late Mississippian ostracod genera and species from northern Alaska: U.S.G.S. Professional Paper, no. 711-A, 24p.

Tiffney, B.H., 1975. A survey of the paleobotanical sites within the proposed Yukon-Charley Rivers area: in Environment of Yukon-Charley Rivers Area, The Center for Northern Studies, Wolcott, Vermont.

Back to Table of Contents

United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service

Go to Nature Net Home Page Go to Park Net Home Page