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An ongoing six-year archeological study in the Big Belt Mountains of central Montana is producing an excellent (6000+) year record of human occupation, resource use, and response to environmental change across three elevation-ecological zones within one basin. This detailed local-scale investigation will be expanded and integrated with high resolution lake sediment records (pollen /charcoal) and alluvial fan stratigraphy in order to construct a more comprehensive regional picture of Holocene environmental change of the region. An integrated landscape-scale approach will provide a better understanding of the linkages between climate, vegetation, fire, geomorphology and early human land-use patterns in an important and understudied climatic and ecological transition zone between Rocky Mountain Front and Great Plains. This study fills an important geographic gap in the existing paleoclimate and archeological records, and may provide broader insights on orographic influences of the Rockies on Pacific derived moisture across western North America.
The main objectives of this one-year pilot study are to: 1) support the paleo-ecological component of archeological investigations, 2) conduct reconnaissance study of kettle lakes and assess suitability for providing Holocene pollen and charcoal records, and 3) conduct a reconnaissance study of alluvial fan and floodplain stratigraphy on both sides of the Big Belts.
Program Director: Ray Callaway
Project Administrator: Todd Kipfer
University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812
Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
2500 Broadway Street
Helena, MT 59620