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

Paper No. 29-26
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM


OUIMET, William B.1, JOHNSON, Katharine2 and MCCUSKER, Megan2, (1)Dept. of Geography; Center for Integrative Geosciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-4148, (2)Geography, University of Connecticut, 215 Glenbrook Road, Storrs, CT 06269

Numerous LiDAR datasets have become available for southern New England, covering vast stretches of the forested terrain that prevail throughout the region. Preliminary analysis of these datasets reveals widespread occurrence of historic features highlighting the region’s 17th to early 20th century land use history, including abandoned roads, building foundations, stone wall lined fields, charcoal hearths, mills and dams, as well as small scale erosional features (i.e., gullies). Ongoing work motivated by LiDAR analysis addresses the patterns, magnitudes, physical, and geologic controls of historic land modification, as well as the legacies and impacts of past land use on physical processes, including gully erosion and sediment mobilization. The emerging view of preserved historic features, historic land use and gullies is unprecedented - a preliminary LiDAR analysis of 196 km2 in Litchfield County, CT reveals 1,743 walls amounting to 732 km in total length, 2,575 charcoal hearths, 256 foundations and 1,107 gullies with a total length of 173 km and mean individual length of 170 m. From the historical archaeology perspective, this research allows for the development and distribution of archaeologically sensitive datasets for preservation and future analysis. From mapping and documenting alone, new contributions can be made to geographic and anthropological theory that address specific questions regarding how individuals divide the landscape, how they shape land use history and the environment in a region, and how the physical landscape (geology, topography, slope, etc.) influences the magnitude, style and patterns of land-use. From a geomorphological perspective, this research provides a unique opportunity to quantify humans’ role as geomorphic agents and the drastic changes wrought upon a de-glaciated landscape, and study the direct erosional consequences (gullies) and mobilization of sediment into main waterways. Research emphasis on hillslope modification (i.e., quantifying human imprint, material moved, and erosional gullies) provides a novel complement to the geomorphology community focused on legacy sediment in fluvial networks, river restoration, and the upland sources of flood sediment loads in landscapes with significant historical human impacts.