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Archaeological site stratigraphy as a record of human resilience in the Islands of Four Mountains, Alaska
Lydia Laubespin Loopesko
May 13, 2015
Department or Program
The Islands of Four Mountains (IFM) are located in the central region of the Aleutian Archipelago, an island arc inhabited by native Unangax populations beginning in the Holocene. The volcanic activity of the Aleutian Islands posed a serious threat to the Unangax populations. The stratigraphy of two archaeological sites on the IFM provides evidence of human occupation truncated by episodic tephra deposits. Grain size analysis, loss-on-ignition, and micromorphology corroborate field interpretations of stratigraphy. Site stratigraphy reveals debris flow deposits excavated by the Unangax to build their homes, which were subsequently abandoned following the deposition of thin tephras. Debris flow deposits and rapid accumulation of thin interbeds of tephras and paleosols to greater than 20 cm caused abandonment of Unangax habitation sites. Continued reoccupation of sites after volcanogenic events points to the resilience of Unangax populations to their changing environment.