Juliette Funck

Name of conference: INQUA 2019
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Dates: July 25-31, 2019
Title: The energetic cost of travel: Linking strontium and nitrogen isotope analyses from bison as indices of their mobility and nutritional stress
Authors:  Juliette Funck, Cade Kellam, Tom Seaton, Clement Bataille,Matthew J. Wooller

 Bison were a dominant feature on northern landscapes during the Late Quaternary. We employ a novel approach coupling and comparing strontium and nitrogen isotopes present in ancient and modern bison to provide proxies of bison mobility and nutritional status. As a modern analogue, we conducted stable nitrogen isotope analyses of sequentially sampled tail hairs (keratin) from modern bison from Alaska. These modern bison composed a recently established (Spring 2015) herd of wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) released into the wilds of Alaska. In addition to analyses of many typical members of the main herd, we also analyzed tail hairs from a suite of individuals that had either undergone starvation and subsequent death, or had travelled large distances, corroborated by satellite tracking. Nutritional stresses caused by starvation and the caloric tolls of long distance travel both produced a notable increase in the stable nitrogen isotope values. This pattern resulted from these individuals essentially consuming their own proteins, which imparts a sequential isotopic record in nitrogen rich tissues that grow incrementally, such as tail hairs or horn sheaths. Although tail hairs from bison are not typically found in the fossil record, similar nitrogen isotope analyses aimed at examining the physiological status of ancient bison can be conducted on cores taken from the keratin composing bison horn sheaths. These horn sheaths are abundant in the Beringian fossil record and maintain a continuous record of physiological changes and stresses throughout a bison’s lifetime. Stable nitrogen isotope analyses of horn sheaths can then be coupled with analyses of strontium isotope ratios (Sr87/86 values) of tooth enamel serial sampled from bison molars (molars 1,2 and 3) used as proxies for paleo-mobility. Strontium isotope ratios have previously been used as a geological tracker of (paleo) mobility, as Sr87/86 ratios vary according to a landscape’s underlying geology and location. By coupling these two isotopic paleoecological proxies it is possible to examine whether bison travelled large distances and whether they experienced physiological costs associated with travel. To enhance our use of strontium isotopes to geolocate bison, we conducted and present results from strontium isotope analyses of modern, georeferenced rodents, used to create a spatial model of bioavailable strontium isotope signatures across Beringia (‘RodeMap’). We also present a case study coupling nitrogen and strontium isotope analyses of a single well-preserved, articulated steppe bison specimen (>50,000 years old), demonstrating the advantages of a multi-isotope approach to examine this particular bison’s life history. The early life of this individual showed evidence of both significant markers of paleo-mobility and physiological stress. Our multi-isotope method allows us to examine possible causes of death (i.e. starvation) periods of resource-limitation through life, migrations, and illustrates the potential costs of paleo-mobility in ancient bison.

Kendall Mills

Name of conference:  American Society of Mammalogists 99th Annual Meeting
Location:  Washington, D. C.
Dates:  6/28/19 – 7/2/19
Title: The genetics and persistence of a seemingly maladaptive trait in the hoary marmot species complex
Authors:  Kendall K. Mills, Brittany M. Bowling, Aren M. Gunderson, and Link E. Olson

 The hoary marmot (Marmota caligata) has a broad distribution in North America, but melanistic (black) individuals are known only in and around Glacier Bay National Park in SE Alaska. Melanistic individuals are much more visually conspicuous than their wildtype counterparts, and we hypothesize this might make them more vulnerable to predation. To determine if there is fitness effect of melanism in hoary marmots, we first sought to explain the genetic underpinnings of the trait. We identified a missense mutation in the melanocortin-1-receptor gene (MC1R) that is perfectly associated with melanism (n=10 melanistic and n=34 wildtype). The closest living relative of the hoary marmot, the Vancouver Island marmot, is completely fixed for a pelage phenotype highly similar to that of melanistic hoary marmots. Furthermore, the closest relative of these two species, the Olympic marmot, is sandy blond in the spring but molts into a melanistic coat in late summer. Variation in MC1R does not explain melanism in either of these two relatives, and it is unknown if and how melanism impacts fitness in either. Understanding the genetic causes of melanism in these species would shed light on how one trait evolved to become polymorphic, fixed, and plastic in three closely related species. We are leveraging recently sequenced marmot genomes and employing field experiments to further explore the evolutionary history and fitness consequences of melanism in marmots.

Juliette Funck

Name of conference: IsoEcol 2018
Location: Vina del Mar, Chile
Dates: 30th July- 3rd of August
Title: The life and times of a steppe bison (Bison priscus) from Arctic Alaska told through his isotopic and molecular chemistry
Juliette Funck, Dan Mann, Pam Groves, Peter D. Heintzman, Beth Shapiro, Clement Bataille, Cade Kellam, Tom Seaton, Matthew J. Wooller

Northern Alaska is experiencing some of the most rapid climate change globally and is also at the center of questions surrounding the settlement of North America’s earliest humans. Understanding how past animals in this region interacted with their environment is key for examining both these research areas. Paleoecology in the far north is benefited by a wealth of well-preserved faunal specimens. The combination of dry and cold climate, rapid sedimentation, and permafrost has led to the north serving as a long-term storage freezer of ancient organisms. Forensic analyses of faunal specimens, including isotopic and molecular techniques, can add to an understanding of an individual specimen’s environment and their mobility. An articulated steppe bison from the Northern Alaska, affectionately known as ‘Bison Bob’, is providing a glimpse of what is possible using a multidisciplinary approach. Stable carbon and oxygen isotope analyses of carbonate sequentially sampled from growth layers of its teeth indicate a yearly cycle with fluctuations in climate and food availability. The interpretation of these paleo data is aided by isotopic analyses of modern wood bison, recently released into the Inoko Flats, Alaska. We are also including analyses of strontium isotope ratios (Sr87/Sr86), which can inform us about the mobility of bison; by comparing strontium isotope data from sequential growth layers in Bison Bob’s tooth enamel to spatial strontium isotope models of Alaska. From these comparisons, it appears that Bison Bob began his life on the coastal plain of the North Slope and then moved south into the foothills of the Brooks Range during his second year of life. Molecular clock estimates derived from the mitochondrial genomes of Bison Bob and other bison indicate that this individual, who has a non-finite radiocarbon age, is likely to be between ~50-82 thousand years old. These mitochondrial data can also potentially provide insight into the metapopulation dynamics of bison in a discontinuous landscape. Multidisciplinary approaches combining light and heavy isotopes as well as ancient genetic information are in this case providing a greater understanding of how ancient bison interacted with its environment.

Brooks Lawler

Name of conference: Alaska Anthropological Association annual conference 2019
Location: Nome, Alaska
Dates: February 27 – March 2, 2019
Paper: Lithic Resource Variability and Toolstone Procurement Strategies in Tangle Lakes, Alaska, by Brooks A. Lawler
Poster: Artifact Geochemical Analysis Calibration Methods: Niton verses Bruker pXRF Performance for Metamorphic Material, by Brooks A. Lawler, Dr. Rainer Newberry, Dr. Joshua D. Reuther

Paper abstract:  The Late Pleistocene – Middle Holocene was a time of change for the environment, resource availability, human population, and occupation in the Tangle Lakes region, Alaska. An apparent shift of technological strategy also shifted over this time period, from what archaeologists term Denali to Northern Archaic technology. Understanding lithic resource variability and procurement through time in the Tangle Lakes region will provide information about continuity or adjustments in toolstone procurement and mobility strategies. This will be accomplished through spatial, geochemical, and lithic attribute analysis to determine how different materials were utilized and specifically how they were transported from known lithic quarries.

Poster abstract:  Advanced multidisciplinary analytical techniques have become paramount for generating data that can be assessed in an archaeological context. Non-destructive geochemical analysis has been a major analytical contribution to archaeological artifact provenance or sourcing studies. Archaeologists tend to use Bruker non-destructive energy-dispersive portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometers mainly because this brand was marketed to archaeologists. However, there are other brands that should be considered for better calibration ability for certain materials. The research presented in the poster shows the Niton XL3t pXRF spectrometer has better calibration capability for metamorphic materials from the Tangle Lakes region, compared to the Bruker pXRF. This suggests archaeologists should be concerned with the black box use of these analytical techniques.

Casey Clark

Name of conference: 22nd Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Dates: October 22-27, 2017
Title: Braving the elements:  Investigating Pacific walrus life history and movements using trace elements in teeth
Authors: Casey T. Clark, Lara Horstmann, Nicole Misarti

Organic structures containing incremental growth layers act as biological archives, recording and storing information throughout an organism’s life. Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) tooth cementum accrues dark and light bands seasonally. Naturally occurring trace elements are included in the cementum in concentrations reflecting those of the environment in which walruses lived and fed. By measuring element concentrations, a lifetime history of exposure can be reconstructed, providing information about the movements and life histories of individual walruses. The purpose of this study was to 1) investigate the association between trace element concentrations and seasonal growth layers in walrus teeth; and, 2) examine trends in element concentrations across the lives of individual animals. We used an Agilent 7500ce ICP-MS to measure concentrations of arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt,copper, iron, lead, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, strontium, vanadium, and zinc in modern-day walrus teeth taken during Alaska Native subsistence harvests (n = 30), historic teeth collected between 1883 and 1981 (n = 40), and archaeological teeth from the last 2,500 years (n = 20).  Variability in trace element concentrations was compared with annual growth layers to identify elements associated with seasonal movements. Changes in element concentrations within the lifetimes of individual walruses were compared qualitatively. Historic and archaeological samples allowed for comparisons of walrus movements and life histories before and after the onset of recent Arctic warming. Multidimensional scaling revealed strong separation in trace element concentrations between the breeding and feeding periods (nMDS stress = 0.001), but no separation between sexes. Males and females exhibited different patterns of accumulation for some elements (e.g., females tended to accumulate lead across their lives, whereas males did not), but showed similar patterns for most. These results provide novel insight into walrus biology and ecology, and demonstrate the viability of trace element analysis for studying these topics.

Nicholas Schmuck

Project Title:  Improving Data Resolution in Southeast Alaska: A Geochemical Analysis of Geological Obsidian for Sourcing Archaeological Materials, and Creation of a Region-Specific Marine Reservoir Effect Correction for Radiocarbon Dating.
Location:  Center for Applied Isotope Studies (CAIS) at the University of Georgia
Date:  July 20th, 2016 – August 21st, 2016

Support from the AQC will contribute to two research projects related to Quaternary research, with direct geology and archaeology applications. The first is a geochemical characterization of obsidian sources from the region using the ICP-MS at the Center for Applied Isotope Studies (CAIS) at the University of Georgia. Previous XRF analyses have found it particularly difficult to differentiate between different geological obsidian sources in the region, although only been a few outcrops, primarily on Suemez Island, have been analyzed. This project will analyze a comprehensive sampling of previously analyzed and new geological obsidian sources using ICPMS, which is capable of reporting geochemistry for a wider range of elements than pXRF. These data will then be incorporated into the Alaska Obsidian Database for sourcing archaeological obsidian. The second project is the production of a much-needed marine reservoir effect radiocarbon correction for southeast Alaska. Paired shell and wood/charcoal samples provided by geologist Jim Baichtal will be analyzed by the author at the CAIS, to assess the divergence of radiocarbon ages between the two materials. The marine shells have already been analyzed, and matching funding are being offered by the US Forest Service to complete the project by analyzing the wood for shell-wood pairs, making this project both timely and cost-efficient. Support from the AQC will be applied towards travel and housing expenses. Funding to cover lab fees associated with the project is being provided by the Geist Fund, with matching funds provided by the US Forest Service. Both projects will prove useful to both geologists and archaeologists working in Alaska, and the marine reservoir correction will have a broader regional impact for researchers in a variety of disciplines. These projects will also provide a foundation for my Ph.D. research at the Department of Anthropology at UAF.

Mattew Whitley

Name of conference: USPA Young Researchers Workshop/ 11th International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP) 2016
Location: Potsdam, Germany
Dates: June 17 – June 24
Title: Thermokarst-induced landscape change on the Yukon Kuskokwim (YK) Delta, Alaska
Authors: Whitley, M.A., Frost, G.V., Maio, C.V., Jorgenson, M.T.

The YK Delta of Alaska is a dynamic region where permafrost and coastal processes drive the majority of landscape change. The YK Delta has relatively warm permafrost that is fragile to disturbance from storm surges and rising air temperatures (Terenzi et al. 2014). While most of the YK is low and wet, ground ice raises the land surface in some areas, creating 'permafrost plateaus'. These plateaus have better drainage and are elevated above the level of saltwater influence; they support characteristic vegetation and soil conditions classified as a Lowland Moist Graminoid-Shrub Meadow ecotype (LMGSM) (Jorgenson and Ely 2001). Large storm surges in the region are known to drive up to 40 km inland due to the low elevation profile of the region (Terenzi et al. 2014). These periodic surges set off thermokarst around the perimeters of permafrost plateaus, and the sea water kills salt-intolerant vegetation. With the decrease of fall sea ice in the region are expected to increase in the future, and should be monitored closely.

Paul Wilcox

Name of Conference:  Geological Society of America Annual Meeting
Location: Denver, CO
Dates:  September 25-28, 2016
Title:  Increasing humidity during the Younger Dryas revealed by palynological and sedimentalogical analysis of cores from Baker Island, southeast Alaska
Authors: Wilcox, P, Fowell, S.J., Bigelow, N.H., Baichtal, J.F.

Emerging evidence of increasing humidity during the Younger Dryas (YD) in the North Pacific (1) is supported by analysis of cores from Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago. Consistent with other records from southeast Alaska, palynomorph assemblages reveal a decline in Pinus (pine) pollen indicative of cooler temperatures at the onset of the YD. A decline in monolete spores suggests an initial decrease in humidity. However, greater percentages of fern spores and Picea (spruce) pollen during the second half of the YD indicate increasingly humid conditions.

Two lake sediment cores from Baker Island contain the entire Younger Dryas (YD) interval, which coincides with a change in pollen assemblages and sediment grain size. AMS dates on terrestrial plant macrofossils have ages of 11,590 – 12,627 and 12,712 – 12,916 cal yr. BP, bracketing the YD. Sedimentologically, this interval is represented by ~ 25 cm of silt; a layer of gravel near the top of the interval has higher magnetic susceptibility values than the overlying Holocene gyttja. The YD interval is underlain by an 8 cm-thick black tephra layer.

Palynological analyses reveal that pine dominated the assemblages (60% of total pollen grains) at ~13,500 cal yr. BP, with lesser amounts of monolete spores (ferns, 20%) and Alnus(alder, 15%). Pine pollen decreases to 5% at the onset of the YD interval (~12,900 cal yr. BP) while alders and ferns increase to 75% and 70%, respectively. Shortly afterwards, (~12,700 cal yr. BP), pine pollen briefly increases to 20%, followed by a decrease to minimal frequency (5%) about halfway through the YD (~12,200 cal yr. BP). Percentages of alder pollen and fern spores also decrease to 55% and 35%, respectively, during the first half of the YD. Beginning at ~11,900 cal yr. BP, spruce increase to 40% and fern spores increase to a 65%. A gravel layer at ~12,000 cal yr. BP may also be indicative of wetter conditions that increased sediment input into the lake. These data expand the region experiencing greater effective moisture during the latter half of the YD (1) significantly further south to Baker Island.

1 Kaufman et al., QSR 29 (2010): 1445-1452.

Caitlin Holloway

Name of conference: Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting
Location: Orlando, Florida
Dates: April, 2016
Paper or Poster title: An Archaeobotanical Analysis of the Upward Sun River Site, Central Alaska
Authors: Caitlin Holloway

Vegetation and plant resources can impact forager mobility and subsistence strategies. However, misconceptions about the preservation of organics in subarctic archaeological contexts and underestimations of the importance of plant resources to foraging societies limit paleoethnobotanical research in high-latitude environments. This research addresses these issues with analyses of archaeobotanical remains found in hearth features from multiple components (approximately 13,300 through 8,000 cal BP) at the Upward Sun River site in the Tanana River basin, central Alaska. Final results from macrobotanical and charcoal identification suggest the presence of several key taxa on the landscape while the site was occupied, including birch, willow, Populus sp., and bearberry. This research contributes to our understanding of plant resource use among foraging populations and broadens our understanding of human-environment interaction in subarctic regions.

Louise Farquharson

Name of conference: American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting
Location: San Francisco, CA
Dates: December, 2015
Paper or Poster title: Timing of high sea level stands in Arctic Alaska during Marine Isotope Stage 5 and inferences about coastal processes
Authors:  L.M. Farquharson, D.H. Mann, B.M. Jones, T.M. Rittenour, G. Grosse

The glacial and interglacial periods of the Quaternary resulted in repeated growth and decay office sheets, and consequently in sea level oscillations. Along the Beaufort coast of Alaska, highsea level during interglacial periods followed extensive marine transgressions (the rise of sea relative to land). During these transgressions, thick units of sediment were deposited nearshore. These deposits preserve valuable archives of coastal environments during previous interglacials.  Of particular interest is the last interglacial (Marine Isotope Stage (MIS 5), a period when the Arctic Ocean may have been largely ice-free in summer. Along the Beaufort coast, discontinuous marine terraces and coastal landforms located 7-10 m above modern sea level have been assigned to this time period (~120 ka BP) and are termed the Pelukian transgression. In light of current climate warming and sea ice decline, MIS 5 is a fascinating analogue for future conditions and may provide insight into the rates and magnitudes of the landscape scale shifts that we might expect over coming centuries.

We present an OSL (optically stimulated luminescence) based chronology from an exposure on
Teshekpuk Lake, 15 km south of the Beaufort Sea coast of Alaska, identified as representing the Pelukian transgression. Our preliminary OSL dates* are not yet final but current analysis
indicates that during one of the MIS 5 substages (OSL age: 113+/-17.6 ka) a shift from massive
marine clay to fossil-rich marine, near-coastal sands occurred. The transition between Unit 1 and Unit 2 currently lies ~ 2.75 m above present sea level. At the base of Unit 2 we found a bed with abundant woody debris, including well-preserved spruce driftwood trunks up to 10 cm in diameter that yielded radiocarbon dead ages. By 93 +/- 13.8 ka, 5.25 m of bedded sands and gravel had accumulated above Unit 1, indicating the presence of a higher energy environment, likely deltaic. The marine sand and gravel unit contained abundant well-preserved bivalve and marine mammal fossils including a walrus tusk, a ringed seal metatarsal and bowhead whale vertebrae. Unit 2 is overlain by several meters of organic rich icy terrestrial silt, for which basal ages were radiocarbon dead and an OSL date of 56.0 +/- 12.8 ka BP indicates a begin of deposition during the early Wisconsin.

Benjamin Gaglioti

Name of conference: XIXth INQUA Conference
Location: Nagoya, Japan
Dates: July, 2015
Paper or Poster title: Using varved lake sediments to detect human impacts on boreal wildfire in Interior, Alaska
Authors: Benjamin V. Gaglioti, Bruce P. Finney, Benjamin M. Jones, John W. Pohlman, Matthew J. Wooller, Daniel H. Mann

Wildfire is a keystone disturbance in the boreal forest, affecting everything from public safety to woodpeckers, and permafrost. How settlement by European people impacted wildfire regimes in Alaska is poorly known because paleo-fire records near population centers are rare. High-resolution studies are needed to detect recent changes in the ‘natural’ tempo of wildfire in the far North because the eras of human settlement and fire suppression are relatively short. Here, we describe the limnological and depositional conditions that produce a varved record in a thermokarst lake near the city of Fairbanks, Alaska (est. AD 1902). This archive is then used to reconstruct the frequency of local wildfires over the last 500 years. Clastic-biogenic varves consisting of silt and annual succession of algae blooms are deposited in deepwater zones (>5 m) and preserved by meromictic conditions in the lake are used for the chronology of paleo-wildfire activity. We measured charcoal area as viewed in epoxy thin sections to detect the age and relative magnitude of paleo-wildfires.  The timing of charcoal peaks in the varve record correlate with the timing of scarred spruce trees around the lake based on tree-ring analyses, indicating that four local wildfires occurred since AD 1900, and the last one occurring in AD 1962. During the ~400 years before Fairbanks was founded, local fires occurred on average every 56 years (35-98 year range). After European settlement, local fires became significantly more frequent (mean 21 years, 10-28 year range) suggesting a human impact on the fire regime during the settlement era that, until now, has had little prehistoric context. This period of anomalously frequent wildfires followed by fire suppression has caused the forest stand-ages, successional seres, and wildfire fuels to be synchronized around Fairbanks today. The paleo-record indicates that this forest will soon be overdue to re-burn.

Louise Farquharson

Name of conference: XVIIth INQUA Conference
Location: Bern, Switzerland
Dates: July, 2011
Paper or Poster title: Holocene thermokarst lake formation within yedoma sediments of the northern Seward Peninsula, Alaska and the Kolyma River Lowlands, North East Siberia.
Authors: Louise Farquharson, Katey Walter Anthony, Nancy Bigelow, Guido Grosse, Mary Edwards

Thermokarst lakes dominate large areas of the Arctic and form through ground collapsing as ice
rich permafrost thaws and surface water pools. They play a critical role in greenhouse gas via the emission of methane (CH4). To understand the future role of thermokarst lakes within the global carbon cycle, it is essential to identify patterns of lake activity during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene. For this it is necessary to understand thermokarst lake formation and development. We collected 60 lake cores, 40 permafrost cores and sampled 44 drained thermokarst lake basin exposures, at our study sites, located in areas of yedoma, on the Seward Peninsula, AK and in the Kolyma Lowlands, NE Siberia. Through visual analysis we identified five key sediment units: laminated silt, chaotic Quaternary, laminated redeposited Quaternary, basal and taberal (thawed in-situ yedoma). We analyzed all permafrost and lake cores for magnetic susceptibility and bulk density using a GEOTEK multi sensor logger and used multi proxy analysis of % Corg, % N, 13C, biogenic silica, grain size and macrofossils, to characterize each sediment unit. Stratigraphic cross sections were created to identify sediment unit distribution within thermokarst lake basins. Each sediment unit represents a different depositional environment, which can be used to reconstruct thermokarst lake development. Additionally, we concluded that sediment unit packages close to the geographic center, containing basal sediments but lacking both chaotic Quaternary and laminated redeposited Quaternary sediments were ideal locations to sample for lake initiation dating.

Samuel Coffman

Name of conference: Society of American Archaeology (SAA) Annual Meetings
Location: St. Louis, MO
Dates: April 14 – 18, 2010
Paper or Poster title: Early Holocene Archaeology at Teklanika West, central Alaska
Authors: Sam Coffman and Ben A. Potter

We report recent research at Teklanika West, one of the original sites used to define the Denali Complex. Multiple components were confirmed at this site, dating throughout the Holocene. Lithic analyses indicate multiple site activities, including weapon maintenance and primary reduction. Faunal analyses are used to infer changing subsistence economies present at the site.

Phoebe Gilbert

Name of conference: Alaska Anthropological Association Annual Meeting
Location: Anchorage AK
Dates: March 24-27
Paper or Poster title: Occupation and Climate change at the Mead Site:  A Geoarchaeological Approach
Authors: Phoebe Gilbert

Questions of paleo-climate/human interactions on the occupational landscape of interior Alaska have intrigued archaeologists for years.  Unfortunately most archaeological sites in interior Alaska are shallow or surface sites with little preservation or stratigraphy.  The Mead Site, a deeply buried site with multiple occupations and excellent preservation, provides a rare opportunity to study the human/climate relationship in prehistory.  Buried surfaces at the site may indicate discrete intervals of when the site would have been available for occupation, and which may correlate with times of environmental stability in the area. Utilizing both geological data and spatial analytical data of the cultural remains from the site, correlations between occupations and climate change in Alaska are presented.

Abstracts from 2008 and earlier

Jason Addison

2008 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, California
Dates: Dec. 15-19, 2008
Poster title: High-Resolution Records of Mid-Holocene Paleoceanographic Change From the Subarctic Northeast Pacific Ocean
Authors: Jason A. Addison (lead author); Walter E. Dean (USGS); Bruce P. Finney (Idaho State Univ.); Maureen H. Davies (Oregon State Univ.)

We present data from four new ultra-high resolution (SAR >2 mm/yr) marine sediment cores recovered along the margin of the Gulf of Alaska region in the Subarctic Northeast Pacific Ocean (SNEPO) recording fluctuations in detrital, biogenic, & authigenic sedimentary components. These regional records of climate change indicate four major regimes since the onset of the Holocene along the SNEPO margin. One of the most distinctive environmental shifts was the change from the relatively warm & moist conditions of the early Holocene Thermal Maximum (HTM) into colder & drier conditions that occurred between approximately 3000 - 7000 cal yrs BP in this high-latitude region. There is a key shift in both paleoproductivity proxies and redox-sensitive trace metal accumulation rates associated with this climatic transition. Based on observations of modern atmosphere-ocean-ecosystem interactions operating in the SNEPO, we interpret these biogeochemical shifts to reflect a change in the baseline mechanics of the atmospheric Aleutian Low (AL) pressure cell. The AL is the principal driving force that leads to nutrient upwelling in the Alaska Gyre, as well as the mechanism that controls coastal stratification via precipitation input & associated fluvial runoff. The measured changes in productivity and trace metals imply a millennial-scale oscillation in upwelling intensity and concomitant horizontal advection towards the more stratified waters of the coastal SNEPO. This oscillatory behavior lasts only 3000 years and terminates during a widespread glacial advance, when paleoproductivity indicators increase monotonically into the late Holocene. Both the magnitude and the millennial-scale frequency are statistically different from observational data of modern conditions in the SNEPO, suggesting that different mechanisms controlled the atmosphere-ocean-ecosystem linkage over this earlier time interval. Changes in high-latitude Northern Hemisphere summer insolation coupled to complex ocean-atmosphere feedbacks may be responsible.

Sarah J. Meitl

Annual Meeting of the Alaska Anthropological Association. Anchorage, AK
Dates: February 27 to March 1, 2008
Paper or Poster title: Denbigh Flint Complex at Onion Portage: What can stone tools tell us?
Authors: Sarah J. Meitl

The Denbigh Flint Complex (Denbigh) has been known for over fifty years, yet there is still much we do not understand. Questions of origin or affiliation often receive the most attention, but other aspects of Denbigh culture remain conjecture, tied loosely to archaeological evidence. The majority of Denbigh material remains are lithic scatters and hearths representing a passing occupation of a location. However, the Denbigh occupation at Onion Portage contains hundreds of features and thousands of artifacts, separated into nine stratigraphic levels. These remains present a unique opportunity to examine how Denbigh people lived and if or how their behavior changed through time. Selected artifact assemblages are compared between features and evaluated in terms of current theories concerning the timing, mobility, and other behavior patterns of Denbigh culture. Previous interpretations are discussed based on these findings.

Eva Stephani

American Geophysical Union 2007 Fall meeting
Location: San Francisco, California
Dates: December 10-14, 2007
Paper or Poster title: Studies of contemporary glacier basal ice cryostructures to identify buried basal ice in the permafrost: an example from the Matanuska Glacier, Alaska.
Authors: Eva Stephani, Daniel Fortier, Mikhail Kanevskiy, Matthew Dillon, Yuri Shur

In the permafrost, massive ice bodies occur as buried glacier ice, aufeis ice, recrystalized snow, massive segregated ice, injection ice, ice wedges or ice formed in underground cavities (“pool ice”, “thermokarst-cave ice”). The origin of massive ice bodies in the permafrost bares considerable implications for the reconstructions of paleoenvironments and paleoclimates. Our work aims to help the permafrost scientists working on massive icy sediments to distinguish buried basal glacier ice from other types of buried ice. To do so, the properties and structure of contemporary basal ice must be well known.
Field investigations at the Matanuska Glacier (Chugach range, South-central Alaska), consisted in descriptions and sampling of natural basal ice exposures. We have used the basal ice facies classification of Lawson (1979) which is simple, easy to use in the field and provides a good framework for the description of basal ice exposures. Cores were extracted and brought back to the laboratory for water and grain-size analyses. The sediments forming the cryostructures were mostly polymodal, poorly sorted gravelly silt to gravelly fine sand, with mud contents generally over 50%. These data will be used to calibrate three-dimensional (3D) models produced from micro-tomographic scans of basal ice which will produce quantitative estimates of volumetric ice and sediments contents of basal ice cryostructures. Ultimately, visual qualitative and quantitative characterization of the basal ice components of 3D models together with field observations and laboratory analysis will allow for a new micro-facies and cryostructures classification of the basal ice. Our work will also have applications in glaciology, glacial geology, geomorphology, Quaternary and paleo-climatological studies based on inferences made from the structure of basal glacier ice. This paper presents the internal composition of the basal ice facies in terms of cryostructures assemblages (Fortier et al.: 2007) and sedimentological properties.

Fortier, D., Kanevskiy, M, Stephani, E., Dillon, M., Shur, Y. 2007. Facies and cryostructures of glacier basal ice as an object of permafrost study, an example from the Matanuska Glacier, Alaska. Canadian Quaternary Association Conference, Ottawa, June 2007: 75.

Lawson, D.E. 1979. Sedimentological analysis of the western terminus region of the Matanuska Glacier, Alaska. Cold Regions Engineering and Research Laboratory, Hanover, N.H., Report 79- 9.

Yiming Wang

AGU annual fall meeting
Location: San Francisco, CA
Dates: Dec. 10th to 14th 2007
Paper or Poster title: Late Quaternary Environmental Changes Inferred from the Stable Oxygen Isotope Composition of Aquatic Insects (Chironomidae: Diptera) and Stable Hydrogen Isotope Composition of bulk sediments from Idavain Lake, Southwest Alaska
Authors: Yiming Wang, Bruce Finney, Matthew Wooller

Several techniques are available to examine the isotopic composition of historic lake waters, providing data that can subsequently be used to examine environmental changes. Recently-developed techniques are the stable oxygen isotope analysis of subfossil chironomid (Diptera: Chironomidae) head capsules (mostly chitin) preserved in lake sediments and stable hydrogen isotope analyses directly on bulk sediments. The advantage of using δ18O of chironomids is that the chitinous chironomid headcapsules preserve well in lake sediments, retaining the stable oxygen isotope signature of the lake in which they lived. An advantage of δ D analyses of bulk sediments is that a sediment core can be analyzed relatively easily and when the %C (total organic carbon) and %H profiles correlate the data can be used to infer past δD changes of the organics in the sediments. We present results from these analyses of a lake sediment core from Idavain Lake (58°46´N, 155°57´W, 223m asl) in southwest Alaska in concert with other paleolimnological proxies including δ15N, δ13C LOI, magnetic susceptibility, organic content and opal concentrations for a better understanding of paleolimnological changes since deglaciation for the region. Our preliminary result showed that downcore shifts of δ18O analyzed from chironomid head capsules coincide with LOI and pollen changes. The δD of sediments showed large magnitude changes during the record as well. This study will add to the relatively small database of paleoenvironmental reconstructions from terrestrial sites Southwest Alaska.

Jason Addison

2006 Annual American Geophysical Union Meeting
Location: San Francisco, California
Dates: Dec. 10-15, 2006
Paper or Poster title: Biogeochemical and Isotopic Records of Holocene Climate Change in the Gulf of Alaska, Northeast Pacific Ocean
Authors: Jason A. Addison (lead author & oral presenter); Bruce P. Finney; Jamie R. Coon

The rapidly accumulating sediment in the Gulf of Alaska (GoA) presents a unique opportunity to study the effects of climate change on marine production over decadal to millennial timescales during the Late Quaternary. Because several parameters that influence marine production are directly related to climate, it is possible to quantify the effects of both short-term regime shifts in the Aleutian Low/Pacific (inter)Decadal Oscillation and long-term Milankovitch orbital forcing using techniques that measure marine paleoproduction. This study describes fluctuations in the accumulation of biogenic and terrestrial sedimentary components using sediment cores recovered from the Gulf of Alaska during the R/V Maurice Ewing EW0408 cruise in the summer of 2004. This set of cores provides an opportunity for the first systematic assessment of marine paleoproductivity for this sector of the Northeast Pacific Ocean.

Bulk sediment samples from a subset of these cores along the southern margin of the Gulf of Alaska were analyzed for biogeochemical concentrations and isotopic ratios. We analyzed a suite of proxies to assess paleoproductivity, including opal, Corg, CaCO3, δ13C, δ15N, and C/N ratios. A suite of major, minor, & trace elements were also measured using X-ray fluorometry to assess fluxes of lithogenic, biogenic, and redox sensitive components. Preliminary results indicate that opal & Corg concentrations are more than two times higher in fjords than in adjacent shelf environments. A strong correlation between opal & Corg records for the GoA shelf suggests a diatom-dominated ecosystem throughout the Holocene. This observation is supported by δ13C measurements that indicate carbon contributions dominantly from phytoplankton with minor terrestrial C3 plant input. δ15N data are relatively constant over the Holocene suggesting either persistent advection of upwelled Alaska Gyre nutrients towards the GoA margin, or rates of denitrification have remained constant since the onset of modern oceanographic conditions.

Hayley Lanier

Visit to US National Museum (Smithsonian)
Location: Washington, DC
Dates: February 2007
Museum contacts: Drs. Richard Thorington and Robert Hoffmann

I am currently studying the phylogeography, morphological variation, and evolutionary history of the collared pika (Ochotona collaris). Although the fossil data indicate that O. collaris was widespread during the Pleistocene, genetic data suggest the extant populations may have recently radiated from a single small population. Where this refugial population was located, and how it is related to the numerous fossil forms, has yet to be determined. My research integrates genetic samples, skeletal measurements, and locality information obtained from newly collected and preexisting O. collaris specimens located at the University of Alaska Museum. To improve geographic and temporal coverage we have been collecting samples in the field, and I have been requesting specimens on loan from other museums. While a number of these museums have smaller holdings that can be obtained on loan, some museums possess samples that are so numerous (>100 individuals) or rare (e.g, type specimens) as to necessitate visiting in person. This is, understandably, a costly undertaking given our current location. I am applying to request funds for travel to the US National Museum in Washington D.C. to examine, measure, and sample their collection of Recent and fossil Ochotona from Alaska and northwest Canada. Objectives of visit:

  • Examine specimens of extant (including the holotype) and fossil pikas available in US
    National Museum collections
  • Collect cranial and postcranial measurements (approximately 50 per specimen) for
    determining current range of body sizes, and clinal changes (relationship between
    environmental variables, latitude, and population differentiation)
  • Examine and measure (where possible) same series of cranial and postcranial landmarks from fossil material (both O. collaris and O. whartoni)
  • Collect genetic samples from skins and skulls to further extend and characterize
    phylogeographic structure, and look for geographic areas of high genetic diversity (potential Pleistocene refugia)
  • Determine accurate locality information utilizing collector field notes and specimen skin tags

Tammy Greene

American Association of Physical Anthropologists 75th Annual Meeting
Location: Anchorage, AK
Dates: March 12-15, 2006
Paper or Poster title: Diet at predynastic Hierakonpolis: an examination of macrowear, microwear, and caries
Authors: T. Greene

While the archaeological record can tell us what foods were available to a population, it cannot reveal whether all members of a group consumed the same diet. This study examines 196 individuals from the Predynastic working class cemetery (HK43) at Hierakonpolis Egypt in order to determine whether males, females, and juveniles shared a similar diet. The burials, as determined through pottery date to Naqada II. Sub-adults account for 16% of the sample. Forty-six percent of the adult sample is male and 54% is female. Methods for determining diet include macrowear scores for the maxillary and mandibular first and second molars; microwear for the phase II wear facet of the second molar, and carious lesion frequency and severity for all teeth. This analysis shows that while the diets are very similar for all individuals, there are dietary differences between males and females at this site. The dentition of males tends to wear at a significantly faster rate than females. Juveniles are shown to have a diet very similar to that of the adults, the only significant difference being in the number of juveniles who exhibit polish on their micrographs. Data from macrowear, microwear and caries is compared to known available foodstuffs from Predynastic Egypt in order to determine the most likely cause of the patterns seen. This project was supported by a National Science Foundation grant (BCS- 0119754) awarded to Dr. Jerome Rose at the University of Arkansas.

Nicole Misarti

Society for American Archaeology, 71st Annual Meeting
Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Dates: March 26-30, 2006
Paper or Poster title: Reconstructing midden composition through chemical analysis of soils in the eastern Aleutians
Authors: Nicole Misarti, Bruce Finney, Herbert Maschner

In order to characterize the chemical signatures of middens with differing faunal remains, this study determined chemical compositions of soils collected from middens from two Aleutian islands, Sanak and Unalaska islands, Alaska. Concentrations of Al, Ba, Ca, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, P, Sr, Ti, and Zn from 200 samples were analyzed using an inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometer (ICP-MS). Results show this type of research could be utilized to determine the presence and possibly faunal composition of middens at older sites in the Aleutians that no longer contain organic remains.

Amy Rodman

American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting
Location: San Francisco, CA
Dates: December, 2005
Paper or Poster title: Origin for Kuparuk River basin springs, North Slope, Alaska
Authors: Rodman, A; Kane, D; Hinzman, L

In the foothills of the Brooks Range of northern Alaska, an abundance of spring discharge occurs year-round. This current research focuses on hydrologic conditions, source of the springs, its residence time and geometry. Possible sources for the spring water are sub-permafrost groundwater and baseflow and groundwater flow immediately adjacent to the Kuparuk River. Water samples were collected in 2005 from the Kuparuk River Watershed, including Imnavait Creek, prior to snowmelt (April), during/after snowmelt (June) and late summer (August). Electric conductivity (EC) values ranged between 50-65 mS/cm for spring water, while EC values at the Kuparuk River ranged from 34.6-235 mS/cm. Alkalinity readings of water from the Kuparuk River ranged from 13.9-64 mg/L; this is compared with spring water values of 24.3-39.9 mg/L. Variations in chemical properties (total and dissolved organic and inorganic carbon, pH, alkalinity, electrical conductivity, and dissolved oxygen) suggest that local spring water is related to the baseflow of Kuparuk River during summer periods. Preliminary data collected in the 2005 field season demonstrates interaction between the flow of the Kuparuk River, nearby spring discharge, aufeis development and permafrost dynamics.