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Human impacts on the environment over the Holocene in Michigan and Illinois using lake sediment geochemistry

Pompeani, David (2015) Human impacts on the environment over the Holocene in Michigan and Illinois using lake sediment geochemistry. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The legacy of human activity is recorded in natural archives such as ice cores and lake sediments. Together these reveal that humans have impacted the global carbon and metal cycles for thousands of years. However little is known about human-environmental change in the United States before European contact. This dissertation uses sorbed metals and stable isotopes of nitrogen measured in lake sediments to reconstruct past human-environmental change from two study regions: the Michigan Copper Districts and Cahokia (a Pre-Columbian city) near modern day East St. Louis, Illinois. Results from eight lakes suggest that distinct physical, geochemical, and isotopic changes associated with human impacts can be detected in lake sediments from the two study regions spanning from 9600 to 600 years before present (yr BP). These changes are consistent with the archeological record and occur at different times and magnitudes at each lake, indicating that the disturbances shifted through time. Sediments from seven lakes in the Michigan Copper District indicate that emissions from copper mining occurred from 9600 to 5000 yr BP when the archeological record suggests that hunter-gatherer societies known as the Old Copper Complex inhabited the region. Results from a lake near Cahokia in Illinois span the last ~1500 years when agricultural people lived in settlements and constructed earthen mounds along the Mississippi River. Sorbed metal concentrations and nitrogen isotope increases in the sediment after 1808 AD and from 1150 to 1350 AD. Changes after 1150 AD coincide with higher human populations during the height of Cahokia (i.e. Stirling and Moorehead Phases) inferred from the archeological record. Overall, the data presented here provide a new window in which to document the responses of lake systems in the United States to human impacts in prehistory.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Pompeani, Daviddpp7@pitt.eduDPP7
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairAbbott, Markmabbott1@pitt.eduMABBOTT1
Committee MemberBain, Danieldbain@pitt.eduDBAIN
Committee MemberHarbert, Williamharbert@pitt.eduHARBERT
Committee MemberStewart, Brianbstewart@pitt.eduBSTEWART
Committee MemberOrtiz,
Date: 23 June 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 26 March 2015
Approval Date: 23 June 2015
Submission Date: 17 April 2015
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 175
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Geology and Planetary Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: geochemistry, metals, sedimentology, archeology, copper
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2015 12:09
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2020 05:15


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