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Holocene alluvial sequences, cumulic soils and fire signatures in the Middle Rio Puerco Basin at Guadalupe Ruin, New Mexico


French, Charles; Periman, Richard; Cummings, Linda Scott; Hall, Stephen; Goodman-Elgar, Melissa; Boreham, Julie. 2009. Holocene alluvial sequences, cumulic soils and fire signatures in the Middle Rio Puerco Basin at Guadalupe Ruin, New Mexico. Geoarchaeology. 24(5): 638-676.

We describe a geoarchaeological survey of a 5-km reach of the Rio Puerco channel and its tributaries, centered on the Guadalupe Ruin, a pueblo of the late 10th-12th centuries A.D. in north-central New Mexico, with associated pollen, charcoal, micromorphological, and radiocarbon analyses. Severe erosion has drastically bisected the Puerco valley with four primary arroyos entering the western side of the Guadalupe reach of the valley: Tapia, Salado, Guadalupe and "No Name." We recorded an 11-m-tall alluvial sequence marked by four phases of cumulic soil development, interrupted by six major periods of channel entrenchment that occurred at about 4100­3700 B.C. and 2900-2400 B.C., between 2200 B.C. and ca. A.D. 400, pre- and post-ca. A.D. 900­1300, and in the late A.D. 1800s. Relative floodplain stability and associated cumulic soil development occurred prior to ca. 5700 B.C., between ca. 2600 to 2200 B.C. and A.D. 350 and 550, and ca. A.D. 900-1300. Multiple signatures of fires (oxidized sediment and charcoal) were observed in the Arroyo Tapia tributary sequence, especially in deposits dated ca. 6000 and 2600 B.C. These fires may have helped to enhance food resources for game animals by encouraging grass and shrub growth and/or to increase the growth of wild plants and eventually cultigens such as maize. Palynological evidence of maize in the Arroyo Tapia, dated ca. 2600-2200 B.C. may be the earliest thus far identified in the Southwest.

Keywords: holocene alluvial sequences, geoarchaeological survey, Middle Rio Puerco Basin, Guadalupe Ruin, New Mexico


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Holocene alluvial sequences, cumulic soils and fire signatures in the Middle Rio Puerco Basin at Guadalupe Ruin, New Mexico
Electronic Publish Date: March 17, 2011
Last Update:
March 17, 2011

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