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Quaternary chronostratigraphy and stable isotope paleoecology of Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, USA

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Kenneth Barnett Tankersley
Affiliation:
Quaternary and Anthropocene Research Group, Department of Anthropology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA Quaternary and Anthropocene Research Group, Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA
Madhav Krishna Murari*
Affiliation:
Quaternary and Anthropocene Research Group, Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA
Brooke E. Crowley
Affiliation:
Quaternary and Anthropocene Research Group, Department of Anthropology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA Quaternary and Anthropocene Research Group, Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA
Lewis A. Owen
Affiliation:
Quaternary and Anthropocene Research Group, Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA
Glenn W. Storrs
Affiliation:
Quaternary and Anthropocene Research Group, Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati, OH 45203, USA
Litsa Mortensen
Affiliation:
Quaternary and Anthropocene Research Group, Department of Anthropology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA
*
* Corresponding author. Fax: + 1 513 556 5784. E-mail address: murarimk@ucmail.uc.edu (M.K. Murari).

Abstract

Big Bone Lick (BBL) in northern Kentucky, USA has been a critical geologic site in the historical development of North American Quaternary vertebrate paleontology since the 1700s. Sedimentology, geoarcheology, paleontology, accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence dating, and stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses were undertaken to develop a chronostratigraphy and history of erosion and deposition for the site to provide a foundation for understanding taphonomy, and species extinction and adaptation to periods of climatic and environmental change. Three geomorphic surfaces are recognized at BBL representing significant periods of floodplain aggradation since the last glacial maximum (26.5–19 ka) dating to the Oldest Dryas (Tazewell, 25–19 ka), the Older Dryas (Cary, 14–12 ka), and late Holocene (5 ka to the present). Unconformities suggest significant periods of degradation during the transitions from cold and dry to warm and moist climates from the Oldest Dryas (Tazewell) to Bølling Oscillation, from the Older Dryas (Cary) to the Allerød, and from the Younger Dryas (Valders) to the Holocene Climatic Optimum. Increased anthropogenic activities since ~ 5 ka may have increased soil upland erosion and floodplain aggradation. Stable isotopes demonstrate that the landscape has been dominated by C 3 vegetation since the last glacial maximum.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
University of Washington

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