Protocol for Discovered Artifacts for the Glacier Ice Patch Project
A Project Funded by the National Park Service's Climate Response Program
Now climate change is melting these ice patches, revealing ancient materials that, until recently, were hidden and safely preserved. In 2009, a multi-disciplinary team of tribal experts, university researchers, and park managers undertook a project to survey, map, protect, and if necessary collect and curate, cultural and paleo-biological items from Glacier National Park’s shrinking ice patches. Visit these pages to learn about the project and its findings as well as ice patch projects in other parts of the world.
View an animation showing how artifacts become trapped in ice and then discovered. Click on the image to view the animation.
View the project video: alpine archaeology in the land of the Blackfeet, Pend d'Oreille, Kootenai and Salish.
What We’re Up To:
- Kathy Puseman, Paleoscapes Archaeobotanical Services Team (PAST), completed identifications of the lag deposits from the ice cores – among the plants and charcoal identified were mountain avens (Dryas), willow (Salix), bluegrass (Poa) and sedge (Carex). The latter two are good forage and were likely deposited on the ice patch via the digestive tracts of ungulates.
- Dr. Beth Shapiro and team at University of California Santa Cruz successfully recovered a complete mitochondrial genome from the Glacier National Park ice bison as well as three comparatives from other Rocky Mountain ice patches. The Glacier NP (femur) fragment had very high endogenous DNA and genetically it falls within the diversity of living bison as opposed to extinct forms.