GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 91-8
Presentation Time: 10:10 AM


HATFIELD, Virginia1, WEST, Dixie L.1, BRUNER, Kale M.1, NICOLAYSEN, Kirsten P.2, SAVINETSKY, Arkady3, KRYLOVICH, Olga A.4, VASYUKOV, Dmitrii3 and OKUNO, Mitsuru5, (1)Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, (2)Department of Geology, Whitman College, 345 Boyer AVE, Walla Walla, WA 99362, (3)Laboratory of Historical Ecology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Leninsky pr 33, 119071, Russia, (4)Laboratory of Historical Ecology, A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, 33 Leninsky pr., Moscow, 119071, Russia, (5)Department of Earth System Science, Fukuoka University, 8-19-1 Nanakuma, Jonan-ku,, Fukuoka, 814-0180, Japan,

Fieldwork in 2014 and 2015 by archaeologists, geologists, and biologists with the NSF funded project “Geological Hazards, Climate Change, and Human Resilience in the Islands of the Four Mountains” conducted research on Chuginadak, Carlisle, and Herbert Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska. The Four Mountains Project seeks to identify and understand interactions among North Pacific human groups, environmental and ecological change through the Holocene, and human response to catastrophic climatic and geological influences. The archaeological sites in the Four Mountains document multicomponent occupations from 4000 years ago to Russian contact in the late 1700s. The prehistoric Aleuts (known as Unangax) reoccupied sites following or in spite of volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and earthquakes. They also persisted through 4000 years of North Pacific climate change. The stratigraphy from the excavation units on Carlisle and Chuginadak sites demonstrates their resilience with house features (floors and fill events) above and below tephra deposits. The cultural materials from these sites indicate they relied on bone and stone tools. Chipped stone tools were made from obsidians, dacites, basalts, andesites, and jaspers, some of which may have been local. Unangan lifeways drastically changed during the 18th century with Russian contact and this cultural contact led to subsequent massacres, disease, and Unangan population relocations. The stratigraphy and cultural materials identified from the Four Mountains excavated sites reflect adaptive hunter/ gatherer/ fishers who thrived for millennia in the North Pacific despite periodic, abrupt volcanism, tsunami activities, variable resource distribution, and long-term shifts in temperature and precipitation.