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Using marine deposits to understand terrestrial human environments: 6000-year old hyperpycnal flash-flood events and their implications

Using marine deposits to understand terrestrial human environments: 6000-year old hyperpycnal flash-flood events and their implications
Using marine deposits to understand terrestrial human environments: 6000-year old hyperpycnal flash-flood events and their implications

Offshore sedimentary deposits preserved in submarine canyons in southern Calabria, Italy, provide evidence for mid-Holocene (ca. 6000 BP) erosion and the transport of organic-rich floodplain sediments by flash-flood (hyperpycnal) flows from the San Pasquale River. Marine geophysical surveys (bathymetry, side-scan sonar) and diver reconnaissance revealed an unusual offshore peat deposit containing plant macrofossils representing local habitats, potentially reflecting human modified landscapes. The 20–30 cm thick organic deposit included a large tree trunk, well-preserved seeds, leaves, sticks and other delicate organics. Textural and microfossil (foraminifera) analysis of associated sediments (sands and muds) indicate that these deposits resulted from hyperpycnal flood events that were deposited as sediment gravity flows within gullies on the canyon margins. Whilst the value of studying in situ submerged prehistoric landscapes is well documented, we demonstrate that reworked floodplain deposits preserved in offshore environments can provide useful palaeoenvironmental information that may not be preserved in terrestrial settings. The botanic archive preserved in submarine flood deposits at San Pasquale affords a unique insight into the local environment in which people lived during the Final Neolithic.

Calabria, Final Neolithic, Hyperpycnal floods, Submerged Prehistory, Submerged prehistory
2352-409X
1-16
Farr, R. Helen
4aba646f-b279-4d7a-8795-b0ae9e772fe9
Clapham, Alan
b53bb7a7-bad6-41d0-9c6b-bfe29b782d32
Reinhardt, Eduard G.
5072f9a8-bff5-4556-a2a0-768fcd8fe153
Boyce, Joseph I.
132ec07a-3604-4aff-b4a4-dedd0ad23c12
Collins, Shawn
9a425280-3820-4762-911f-48614aefed6f
Robb, John
33b7c561-6239-4c8c-84b1-0f9694975cef
Farr, R. Helen
4aba646f-b279-4d7a-8795-b0ae9e772fe9
Clapham, Alan
b53bb7a7-bad6-41d0-9c6b-bfe29b782d32
Reinhardt, Eduard G.
5072f9a8-bff5-4556-a2a0-768fcd8fe153
Boyce, Joseph I.
132ec07a-3604-4aff-b4a4-dedd0ad23c12
Collins, Shawn
9a425280-3820-4762-911f-48614aefed6f
Robb, John
33b7c561-6239-4c8c-84b1-0f9694975cef

Farr, R. Helen, Clapham, Alan, Reinhardt, Eduard G., Boyce, Joseph I., Collins, Shawn and Robb, John (2020) Using marine deposits to understand terrestrial human environments: 6000-year old hyperpycnal flash-flood events and their implications. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 30, 1-16, [102176]. (doi:10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.102176).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Offshore sedimentary deposits preserved in submarine canyons in southern Calabria, Italy, provide evidence for mid-Holocene (ca. 6000 BP) erosion and the transport of organic-rich floodplain sediments by flash-flood (hyperpycnal) flows from the San Pasquale River. Marine geophysical surveys (bathymetry, side-scan sonar) and diver reconnaissance revealed an unusual offshore peat deposit containing plant macrofossils representing local habitats, potentially reflecting human modified landscapes. The 20–30 cm thick organic deposit included a large tree trunk, well-preserved seeds, leaves, sticks and other delicate organics. Textural and microfossil (foraminifera) analysis of associated sediments (sands and muds) indicate that these deposits resulted from hyperpycnal flood events that were deposited as sediment gravity flows within gullies on the canyon margins. Whilst the value of studying in situ submerged prehistoric landscapes is well documented, we demonstrate that reworked floodplain deposits preserved in offshore environments can provide useful palaeoenvironmental information that may not be preserved in terrestrial settings. The botanic archive preserved in submarine flood deposits at San Pasquale affords a unique insight into the local environment in which people lived during the Final Neolithic.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 16 December 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 20 February 2020
Published date: April 2020
Additional Information: Funding Information: This research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Grant AH/E00783X/1 ) and the McDonald Institute for Research , Cambridge (Farr and Robb) and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (Boyce and Reinhardt).
Keywords: Calabria, Final Neolithic, Hyperpycnal floods, Submerged Prehistory, Submerged prehistory

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 438551
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/438551
ISSN: 2352-409X
PURE UUID: f7451cbd-4489-4824-b1da-0a55398a49e9

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Date deposited: 16 Mar 2020 17:35
Last modified: 20 Feb 2021 05:01

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Contributors

Author: R. Helen Farr
Author: Alan Clapham
Author: Eduard G. Reinhardt
Author: Joseph I. Boyce
Author: Shawn Collins
Author: John Robb

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