Alluvial stratigraphy and geoarchaeology in the Big Fork River Valley, Minnesota: human response to Late Holocene environmental change
Christopher L. Hill, George Rapp, Zhichun Jing, 2011. "Alluvial stratigraphy and geoarchaeology in the Big Fork River Valley, Minnesota: human response to Late Holocene environmental change", Human Interactions with the Geosphere: The Geoarchaeological Perspective, L. Wilson
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The Late Quaternary geomorphology and stratigraphy of the Big Fork River valley, within the Rainy River basin of northern Minnesota, reveals evidence of prehistoric human interaction with late Holocene riverine environments. By 11 000 14C BP, deglaciation made the region inhabitable by human groups using Clovis artefacts. Human habitation would also have been possible during the Moorhead low-water stage of glacial Lake Agassiz, starting at 10 500 14C BP. Near its confluence with the Rainy River, the valley floor of the Big Fork valley consists of a floodplain complex and two terraces. The multi-component stratified Hannaford site is situated within the active floodplain. Overbank deposits contain artefacts in primary context, whereas artefacts within the point bar deposits are in secondary archaeological context; these deposits are associated with changing alluvial settings as the river moved eastward. Aggradation of the valley fill beneath the lowest surface (T0, floodplain complex) began by 3000 years ago and is associated with human activities focused on seasonal fishing and the use of riparian resources from 1300 to 650 14C BP.
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Human impact on our environment is not a new phenomenon. For millennia, humans have been coping with – or provoking – environmental change. We have exploited, extracted, over-used, but also in many cases nurtured, the resources that the geosphere offers. Geoarchaeology studies the traces of human interactions with the geosphere and provides the key to recognizing landscape and environmental change, human impacts and the effects of environmental change on human societies. This collection of papers from around the world includes case studies and broader reviews covering the time period since before modern human beings came into existence up until the present day. To understand ourselves, we need to understand that our world is constantly changing, and that change is dynamic and complex. Geoarchaeology provides an inclusive and long-term view of human–geosphere interactions and serves as a valuable aid to those who try to determine sustainable policies for the future.