Late quaternary Alaskan paleoclimate : geoarchaeological insights into the Pleistocene-Holocene transition.


Eastern Beringia is a region which has undergone dramatic changes since the end of the Last Glacial Maximum, environmentally and climatically. These changing conditions likely contributed to the changes in human behavior observed in the earliest human inhabitants who migrated into the region sometime within this time period. In order to better understand the relationship between shifting paleoenvironmental conditions and human behavior, it is crucial to have a detailed understanding of what those climatic changes looked like in the regions these early Beringians were inhabiting. To accomplish this goal, this dissertation uses modern pedological, micromorphological, and sedimentological analyses to reconstruct paleoclimate and the site formation history of three archaeological sites in Alaska: Dry Creek in the Nenana River Valley, Owl Ridge in the Teklanika River Valley, and Serpentine Hot Springs on the Seward Peninsula. This work reveals a progressive transition from cold, dry, open tundra conditions following the Last Glacial Maximum to cool, moist, boreal forest conditions in the middle to late Holocene, though this transition was not a smooth one.



Quaternary paleoclimate. Paleosols. Alaskan archaeology. Loess. Geoarchaeology.