Title

Paleopedology associated with the rise and dispersal of Anatomically Modern Humans at Gona, Ethiopia

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Graduate

Major

Earth and Environmental Science

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Gary E. Stinchcomb, PhD

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Geologists and paleoanthropologists continue to debate the onset, development, and rate of change of out-of-Africa dispersals by Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH). Climatic and environmental variability is often inferred to be the catalysts of these migrations, yet the precise context of these dispersals, including climate effects on local flora and fauna, remains unclear. This study addresses this uncertainty by examining a series of eleven fossilized soils (paleosols) that range in age from the Middle Pleistocene (~570 ka) to present at Gona, Ethiopia, a significant paleoanthropological area that has abundant archaeological and AMH fossil sites. Paleosols provide an ideal archive for reconstructing the localized changes in paleoenvironment and paleoclimate associated with Gona’s archaeological and fossil sites, as they are a reservoir of biogeochemical dynamics related to the surrounding environment.

Initial morphological observations from the paleosols of the Yaalu (~80 ka) and Erole (12 ka) fossil sites show the presence of soil carbonate and shrink-swell features indicative of seasonal climate. Bulk geochemical data supports these observations, with the Yaalu paleosols yielding average mean annual precipitation (MAP) and temperature (MAT) values of 723 mm/yr (± 108) and 14.0°C (± 4.4), with Erole paleosols yielding average MAP and MAT values of 832 mm/yr (± 108) and 13.3°C (± 4.4), respectively. These data will continue to be expanded upon and will encompass eight archaeological and fossil localities in eleven different sites.

Although these results are preliminary, this growing dataset will compliment more regional-scale paleoenvironmental and paleoclimate records when interpreting the forcings and responses of Out-of-Africa migrations.

Spring Scholars Week 2019 Event

Watershed Studies Institute Research Symposium

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Paleopedology associated with the rise and dispersal of Anatomically Modern Humans at Gona, Ethiopia

Geologists and paleoanthropologists continue to debate the onset, development, and rate of change of out-of-Africa dispersals by Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH). Climatic and environmental variability is often inferred to be the catalysts of these migrations, yet the precise context of these dispersals, including climate effects on local flora and fauna, remains unclear. This study addresses this uncertainty by examining a series of eleven fossilized soils (paleosols) that range in age from the Middle Pleistocene (~570 ka) to present at Gona, Ethiopia, a significant paleoanthropological area that has abundant archaeological and AMH fossil sites. Paleosols provide an ideal archive for reconstructing the localized changes in paleoenvironment and paleoclimate associated with Gona’s archaeological and fossil sites, as they are a reservoir of biogeochemical dynamics related to the surrounding environment.

Initial morphological observations from the paleosols of the Yaalu (~80 ka) and Erole (12 ka) fossil sites show the presence of soil carbonate and shrink-swell features indicative of seasonal climate. Bulk geochemical data supports these observations, with the Yaalu paleosols yielding average mean annual precipitation (MAP) and temperature (MAT) values of 723 mm/yr (± 108) and 14.0°C (± 4.4), with Erole paleosols yielding average MAP and MAT values of 832 mm/yr (± 108) and 13.3°C (± 4.4), respectively. These data will continue to be expanded upon and will encompass eight archaeological and fossil localities in eleven different sites.

Although these results are preliminary, this growing dataset will compliment more regional-scale paleoenvironmental and paleoclimate records when interpreting the forcings and responses of Out-of-Africa migrations.