Volcanism, climate change, and prehistoric cultural succession in southern Washington and north-central Idaho Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/kp78gm61n

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  • The cultural influence of volcanic eruptions has been emphasized in the archaeological literature. However, the larger effects that Mount St. Helens volcanic eruptions had upon prehistoric populations in the Pacific Northwest is not understood. This thesis asks questions of the archaeological and paleoenvironmental record of the Pacific Northwest to assess the degree of influence Late Pleistocene and Holocene volcanic eruptions of Mount St. Helens had upon the cultural record of human existence in southern Washington and north-central Idaho. The record of eruptive activity at Mount St. Helens is reviewed and its tephra lobes mapped from reports of pyroclastic identification in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada, to gain a temporal and spatial understanding of the eruptions. A general systemic model is presented to identify the factors responsible for the deposition, removal and alteration of tephra. This model illustrates the complexity of tephrostratigraphic deposition, and increases the awareness of its residence within archaeological sites. Several sets of paleoenvironmental data are correlated with archaeological records of human occupation in southern Washington and north-central Idaho, including records of pollen fluctuation, glacial advance, volcanic activity at Mount St. Helens, and the Late Quaternary history of volcanic acidity in Greenland ice. This correlation illustrates an incipient relationship between volcanic activity, Quaternary history of volcanic acidity in Greenland ice. This correlation illustrates an incipient relationship between volcanic activity, climate change, and cultural behavior. Cultural historical successions and site occupation in areas between the southern Cascades of Washington and the Clearwater River drainage of north-central Idaho appear to be contemporaneous with regional and hemispheric records of volcanic activity, and changing environmental conditions.
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