Fortney: Condo excavation digs up glacial erratic

Calgary Herald

It was supposed to be just another day on the job site, excavating some earth where an old house once stood.

When workers dug in, though, it was anything but a routine experience.

“It was really tough rock, about eight feet below grade,” says Josh Poirier, site and safety superintendent for the Tela condo project in Calgary’s Mission district. “The excavators brought in a hoe with a breaker on it. They spent about two hours trying to break the rock apart, but they only got about nine pizza box-sized rocks out.”

While Poirier and his team scratched their heads, they soon found themselves joined by many others.

“The president of the excavating company came out, they all said they hadn’t seen anything like this before,” he says.

They discovered that a massive rock — about four metres by four metres and weighing about 85 tonnes — had been under the house on 22nd…

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A variety of artifacts typically found in Alberta. Photo credit: Todd Kristensen. A variety of artifacts typically found in Alberta. Photo credit: Todd Kristensen.

Archaeological artifacts may be exposed by natural events (flooding, freeze/thaw cycles or tree throws) or human modification to a landscape (agriculture, recreation activities or development). As explained in a previous post, Alberta is Rich in Archaeology, archaeologists working in the province discover, or revisit, sites during the course of Historical Resource Impact Assessments. However, there are large stretches of the province that are not subject to Historical Resource Impact Assessments such as previously cultivated areas or areas that do not have development projects on them. This doesn’t mean there are not archaeology sites there. Often, people will discover archaeological artifacts and sites when they are out hiking, fishing, geocaching, working or cultivating their fields…

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