A new study by Baylor University geology researchers shows that Native Americans' land use nearly a century ago produced a widespread impact on the eastern North American landscape and floodplain development several hundred years prior to the arrival of major European settlements.
The study appears on-line in the journal Geology.
Researchers attribute early colonial land-use practices, such as deforestation, plowing and damming with influencing present-day hydrological systems across eastern North America. Previous studies suggest that Native Americans' land use in eastern North America initially caused the change in hydrological systems, however, little direct evidence has been provided until now.
The Baylor study found that pre-European so-called "natural" floodplains have a history of prehistoric indigenous land use, and thus colonial-era Europeans were not the first people to have an impact on the hydrologic systems of eastern North America. The study also found that prehistoric small-scale agricultural societies caused widespread ecological change and increased sedimentation in hydrologic systems during the Medieval Climate Anomaly-Little Ice Age, which occurred about 700 to 1,000 years ago.
"These are two very important findings," said Gary Stinchcomb, a Baylor doctoral candidate who conducted the study. "The findings conclusively demonstrate that Native Americans in eastern North America impacted their environment well before the arrival of Europeans. Through their agricultural practices, Native Americans increased soil erosion and sediment yields to the Delaware River basin."
The Baylor researchers found that prehistoric people decreased forest cover to reorient their settlements and intensify corn production. They also contributed to increased sedimentation in valley bottoms about 700 to 1,000 years ago, much earlier than previously thought. The findings suggest that prehistoric land use was the initial cause of increased sedimentation in the valley bottoms, and sedimentation was later amplified by wetter and stormier conditions.
To conduct the study, the Baylor researchers took samples along the Delaware River Valley. Landforms were mapped based on relative elevations to Delaware River base flow and archaeological excavations assessed the presence of human habitation. The Baylor researchers then used a site-specific geoarchaeological approach and a regional synthesis of previous research to test the hypothesis that the indigenous population had a widespread impact on terrestrial sedimentation in eastern North America.
"This study provides some of the most significant evidence yet that Native Americans impacted the land to a much greater degree than previously thought," said Dr. Steve Driese, professor and chair of Baylor's department of geology, College of Arts and Sciences, who co-authored the study. "It confirms that Native American populations had widespread effects on sedimentation."
Scientists from the Smithsonian and Temple University also collaborated on the project.Media contact:
Matt Pene | EurekAlert!
Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.07.2018 | Life Sciences
16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences