The Wisconsin glaciation, the last expansion of ice sheets during the Pleistocene period, reached its peak 19000 years before present. Ocean levels were significantly lower than today. The continental shelf along the Eastern United States seaboard extended up to 200 kilometers as dry land. Spruce and deciduous forests covered the once dry continental shelf (Emery, K.O. and Edwards, R., 1966). The oldest radiocarbon dated archaeological sites in the United States of America are located along the Eastern shoreline. (see map on Introduction page) This presentation discusses how remote sensing tools can assist in locating potential submerged archaeological sites between 14000 and 18000 years before present. Submerged caves and karst sinkholes have great potential for locating early archaeological sites. These locations had some protection from rising sea levels. Submerged caves and sinkholes are relatively easy to locate with remote sensing. Examples of remote sensing methods to be discussed include: bathymetric data, sub bottom profiler, multibeam sonar, and side scanning sonar.
Florida was chosen for this study for the following reasons:
- The vast karst topography is dotted with sinkholes and cave sites; the earliest dates documenting the first Americans occur in the eastern and southeastern United States ;
- numerous early submerged sites exist in Florida along the western shelf (Faught, Michael 2002, 2004), (Borremans, Nina 1990).
Bathymetric data were used to re-create old shorelines from 15000 and 19000 years before present.
With remote sensing of the Atlantic shelf, scientists may someday be able to find out who exactly the first Americans were and where they came from. Remotely sensed images of the vast depths of the Atlantic combined with collaboration of various sciences, can reconstruct the world that existed 19000 years ago.
Bathymetric map of Atlantic trench http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Atlantic-trench.JPG
Bathymetry multibeam http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/bathymetry/multibeam.html
Borremans, Nina, 1990, "Paleoindian History of Florida", State of Florida http://www.flheritage.com/facts/reports/contexts/paleo.cfm
Emery, K.O. and Edwards, R., 1966, Archaeological potential of the Atlantic continental shelf, American Antiquity 31, 733-737.
Faught, Michael, K., Autumn, 2002 - Winter, 2004, Submerged Paleoindian and Archaic Sites of the Big Bend, Florida, Journal of Field Archaeology, Vol. 29, No. 3/4., pp. 273 - 290. http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0093-4690(200223%2F200424)29%3A3%2F4%3C273%3ASPAASO%3 E2.0.CO%3B2-8
Gardner, James V. , Dartnell, Peter, and Sulak, Kenneth J. , 2002," Multibeam Mapping of the West Florida Shelf, Gulf of Mexico:"U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 02-005, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA.http://geopubs.wr.usgs.gov/open-file/of02-005/site/persp. html
GeoMapApp website http://serc.carleton.edu/eet/seafloor/all_parts.html
Kincaid, T.R., 1999, "Morphologic and Fractal Characterization of Saturated Karstic Caves", Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Wyoming http://research.gg.uwyo.edu/kincaid/Modeling/W akulla/wakhydro.htm