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To assist U.S. Air Force archaeologists study and preserve cultural sites associated with early Native American inhabitants of the Nevada Test and Training Range, we have determined the late Pleistocene environments of nine playas on the range from surface deposits around the playas. Based on shoreline features such as barrier bars, wave-cut benches, and beach gravel deposits, the playas of Mud Lake, Gold Flat, and Kawich Lake contained pluvial lakes. Based on fossils, palustral clay sediments, paleospring, and seep deposits, the playas of Stonewall Flat, Indian Springs Valley, and Three Lakes Valley contained extensive wetlands. Two playas in Cactus Flat and one at Dog Bone Lake contain none of these surface deposits and are interpreted to have hosted seasonal lakes and grassy meadows, based on modern analogs in the Pahranagat Valley. Radiocarbon dates from Mud Lake, Gold Flat, and Stonewall Flat indicate these environments existed up to the beginning of the Holocene ca. 10,000 years before present (yr B.P.) and would have provided resources of fresh water, fish and game, edible and medicinal plants, fuel, and materials for the construction of shelter. As changing climate conditions from 10,000–8000 radiocarbon yr B.P. forced the contraction and eventual disappearance of these lakes and wetlands, basins with larger surface water budgets probably furnished early inhabitants with useful resources after the pluvial features in the smaller basins had disappeared.

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