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UMMA Brown Bag Series: Microscopic Analysis of Submerged Landscapes of the Alpena-Amberley Ridge

Thursday, October 18, 2012
12:00 AM
2009 Ruthven Museum

The study of microdebitage, testate amoebae and sediment particle morphology hold great potential for locating, reconstructing and characterizing ephemeral pre-historic sites in areas that are difficult to excavate with traditional archaeological methods, such as submerged sites. In Lake Huron, large tracts of land have been inundated since the Lake Stanley lowstand phase (ca. 9.9- 7.9 ka BP). During this time of lowered water-levels (up to 100 m below present levels), the Alpena Amberley Ridge was a sub aerially exposed causeway that bifurcated Lake Stanley. In this study, microdebitage, testate amoebae and sediment particle morphology are used to investigate the Alpena Amberley Ridge, where several stone features and modified wood from 8.9 ka BP have been located at a depth of 25-35 m. Microdebitage help identify which of the features are anthropogenic. Testate amoebae locate wetland areas and detect water- level fluctuations. Finally, particle size morphology provides insight into taphonomic and surficial processes. All of these methods are easy to extract from sediment grab samples and initial identification can be completed with a standard light microscope before final detailed characterization with Scanning Electron Microscopy.

Elizabeth Sonnenburg, University of Michigan