2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 204-5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


WELLS, Greta H., Geography and the Environment, University of Texas at Austin, 305 E. 23rd St., Austin, TX 78712, BEACH, Timothy, Geography and Environment, UT Austin, 305 E. 23rd Street, Austin, TX 78712, AEBERSOLD, Luisa, Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712 and SMYTH, Michael P., The Foundation for Americas Research, Inc., Winter Springs, FL 32719, ghwells@utexas.edu

The Valley of Leyva, Boyacá, Colombia is a strikingly eroded landscape, with upland surfaces that are stripped except for remnant soil pedestals. Here we build on previous studies of erosion by assessing the timing of sedimentation. Erosion of this environment could have been caused by human land use changes, climate changes, or both. In the field, we cored and trenched floodplains and a high mountain pond and found stratified sediments down to 2-3 m, a fence post buried by 70 cm, and a well-developed buried paleosol in some floodplain sites below 2 m depth. Our main techniques are to date sediment deposition with Pb-210 and AMS and characterize sediment chemistry and texture in order to correlate sediments with broader land uses in the watershed. These sites are near the archaeological site of El Infiernito, which has Muisca settlement from over the last 1200 years, and has a long European settlement occupation of nearly 500 years. We want to pinpoint deposition with cultural periods and land uses, such as the Early or Late Muisca periods or European settlement with livestock. This region has not had a paleoclimate study record thus far, but erosion may also have responded to ENSO cycles, the Medieval Climate Anomaly, and/or the Little Ice Age. Ultimately, this research will contribute to a larger project examining how Early Muisca chiefdoms responded to climate change and how their land uses influenced soil erosion.