2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 12-9
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM

ABRUPT CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA


WEST, Catherine F., Department of Archaeology, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215, ANDRUS, C. Fred T., Geological Sciences, University of Alabama, 202 Bevill Building, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, ETNIER, Michael, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225 and BURCHELL, Meghan, Anthropology, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, L8S 4L9, Canada, cfwest@bu.edu

In spite of well-documented abrupt climate changes in the Late Holocene North Pacific Ocean, analysis of archaeological faunal records throughout the region suggest a high level of consistency through time. The only clear climate-related change in species distribution/abundance is a strong pulse of the ice-adapted ringed seal (Phoca hispida), which is reported to have expanded its breeding distribution into the eastern Aleutian Islands ca. 4700–3500 BP. However, other invertebrate and vertebrate faunas (e.g., fish and birds) from the same deposits show no ice-related changes in distribution or abundance. In our future research program, we will evaluate this inconsistency by reconstructing local environmental conditions using two major lines of evidence: 1) growth patterns and stable oxygen isotopes in archaeological shellfish will be used to reconstruct the local paleoenvironment during and after the purported ice incursion, and 2) archaeological faunal material from several taxonomic groups will be used to test whether animal distribution and behavior have changed through time in response to abrupt changes in climate.