Title

Sourcing Obsidian in the Islands of the Four Mountains

Presenter

Bea Sheffer

Abstract

The isolated, windswept Islands of the Four Mountains (IFM) are central within the Aleutian arc. Although not currently inhabited, prehistoric Aleut sites up to calibrated 3760+/-60 years old are nestled on the flanks of almost every volcano within the IFM. Using what was available, these prehistoric communities worked obsidian, jasper, and dacite into tools. These siliceous tools are especially resistant to physical and chemical weathering (dissolution) in soils. Comparing elemental abundances collected by electron microprobe and by pXRF of the possible source material and artifacts provides clues into how the prehistoric Aleut people lived. In 2015, a fifteen-person research team collected possible source material from four volcanoes within the IFM. By connecting geographical locations of these source materials and the artifacts, the IFM team can investigate distances traveled to collect source material and the rarity of that material. These links provide insight into the relationship between people and their environment.

Faculty Sponsor

Kirsten Nicolaysen

Sponsor Department/Programs

Geology

Tracks

Geology and Climate

Terms of Use

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Location

Science 159

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Research Funding Source or OCS Program

National Science Foundation

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Apr 19th, 11:00 AM Apr 19th, 11:15 AM

Sourcing Obsidian in the Islands of the Four Mountains

Science 159

The isolated, windswept Islands of the Four Mountains (IFM) are central within the Aleutian arc. Although not currently inhabited, prehistoric Aleut sites up to calibrated 3760+/-60 years old are nestled on the flanks of almost every volcano within the IFM. Using what was available, these prehistoric communities worked obsidian, jasper, and dacite into tools. These siliceous tools are especially resistant to physical and chemical weathering (dissolution) in soils. Comparing elemental abundances collected by electron microprobe and by pXRF of the possible source material and artifacts provides clues into how the prehistoric Aleut people lived. In 2015, a fifteen-person research team collected possible source material from four volcanoes within the IFM. By connecting geographical locations of these source materials and the artifacts, the IFM team can investigate distances traveled to collect source material and the rarity of that material. These links provide insight into the relationship between people and their environment.

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