(Aptian/early Albian)

Charles Mortram Sternberg



Peace River Canyon

   Field Expeditions

N.M.C :1930


P.M.A.: 1976-1979

Recent Finds


The first footprint finds in what is now the Gething Formation were made by a geologist, F.H. McLearn in 1922 in the Peace River Canyon of northeastern British Columbia.  Charles Mortram Sternberg from the National Museum of Canada (N.M.C.), now the Canadian Museum of Nature (C.M.N.) led the first palaeontological expedition to the Peace River in 1930, to document the tracks and collect samples for display.  Sternberg found more than 400 tracks and described eight new ichnotaxa belonging to small to large theropods, large ornithopods and ankylosaurs. 

This was by far Canada's richest and most spectacular tracksite and was also one of the best in the world.  However, these great tracksites were ignored for decades after Sternberg's expedition.  It was not until 1965 that the Royal Ontario Museum (R.O.M.) launched an expedition to the Peace River to document tracks before they were covered by the construction of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam and the resulting reservoir (Williston Lake).  Several trackways were measured and mapped and casts were made of some of the prints as a result of the R.O.M. visit.

These wonderful tracksites were neglected for another decade when it was realized that upon the completion of the Peace Canyon Dam all known tracksites in the Peace River Canyon would be drowned between the two dams (Peace Canyon and W.A.C. Bennet dams).  The Provincial Museum of Alberta (P.M.A.) sent four expeditions to the Peace River Canyon (1976-1979 field seasons), led by Philip J. Currie (now head of dinosaur research at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta) to salvage what they could in terms of track data, original and cast specimens before the inevitable deluge.  As a result of Phil Currie's efforts over 1,700 footprints were documented, ninety original specimens were collected and moulds were made of over 200 footprints.

Footprints still continue to be found in the Gething Formation outside of the Peace River Canyon, mainly isolated prints in roadcuts or other outcrops with little surface exposure for a given trackbed.  It is likely that significant exposures of in situ trackways may still be waiting to be found by future vertebrate ichnologists