Abstract

Prehistoric archaeological sites dating between 12 000 B.P. and 6 000 B.P. are expected on that portion of the Gulf of Mexico continental shelf which was subaerially exposed at 12 000 B.P. Although the archaeological sites are too small and their contrast to the surrounding sediments is insufficient to be resolved by high-resolution seismic profilers, geomorphic features, such as fluvial channels, bays, lakes, etc., with which these sites are frequently associated are easily detected with seismic methods.High-resolution seismic reflection data from the Gulf of Mexico have produced evidence of relict fluvial systems with well-preserved terraces, point bars, and levee ridges, occurring within 9.0 m or less of the present seafloor. Regional studies which detail the late Pleistocene and Holocene geology of the Gulf of Mexico, and published sea level curves, indicate that these fluvial features date from the late Wisconsin and early Holocene periods when prehistoric man's presence in the Gulf Coast Region is well documented. Verifying the presence of archaeological sites in association with these fluvial features will require physical and chemical analysis of sediment cores from each location.The Minerals Management Service is presently conducting an archaeological study designed to investigate relict fluvial features similar to those discussed in this paper. The physical and chemical analyses of the sedimentary cores collected during this study are presently incomplete; however, initial inspection of the cores indicates the presence of well-preserved lithosomes. The preservation potential of any archaeological sites occurring within these lithosomes also would be excellent.

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