Alberta's Canadian Shield Natural Region
Updated December 15, 2006
Below is information on the key characteristics of the Canadian Shield Natural Region/Kazan Upland Natural Subregion.
Sparsely vegetated granite bedrock exposures and coarse glacial deposits, hundreds of small lakes, short, warm summers and very cold winters are unique features of the Kazan Upland Natural Subregion in the far northeast, the only area in Alberta on the Canadian Shield.
- Total area: 9719 km2 (1.5% of province).
- Average elevation: 275 m (range 150-400 m).
The Canadian Shield Natural Region has only
one Natural Subregion, the Kazan Upland. The
following discussion of the Kazan Upland
Natural Subregion applies to the Canadian
Shield Natural Region as well.The
Upland Natural Subregion occurs in the far
northeastern corner of Alberta. The main area
lies north of Lake Athabasca. It is bordered on
the east and north by the Alberta–Saskatchewan
and Alberta–Northwest Territories boundaries,
respectively, on the west by the Slave River,
and on the south by Lake Athabasca. There is a
small outlier east of the Athabasca River
between Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan
embedded within the Athabasca Plain Natural
Subregion. Elevations range from about 150 m
to over 400 m. Extensive outcrops of
Precambrian bedrock, the westernmost edge of
the Canadian Shield, define the limits of the
Kazan Upland Natural Subregion; on average,
60 percent of the landscape is exposed bedrock.
Topography is hummocky to rolling, with local
relief of up to 50 m. Parent materials are icescoured
bedrock and coarse textured glacialdrift. Bedrock barrens are interspersed with
“pocket” communities vegetated by lichens,
mosses and drought-tolerant ferns.
Open jack pine, aspen and birch stands occur where the soil is sufficiently deep. Acidic bogs and poor fens occur adjacent to the many small lakes and in low spots on the more subdued terrain in the western part of the Natural Subregion. The conventional reference site concept of deep, medium textured, well drained soils and associated vegetation does not adequately fit most of the Kazan Upland Natural Subregion. Characteristic sites are rocky exposures or dry, rapidly drained coarse glacial deposits.
The new Natural Regions and Subregions of Alberta Report (5.2 MB) is now available.
View the Errata Report(23 KB) for the printed and digital versions of the above report, prior to May 15 2006.