Three Low-Frequency Climate in the Mesa Verde Region

Aaron M. Wright

in Emergence and Collapse of Early Villages

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780520270145
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520951990 | DOI:
Three Low-Frequency Climate in the Mesa Verde Region

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Low-frequency climate records, available from pollen depositional sequences, provide an important adjunct to the high-frequency paleoclimate records provided by tree-ring research. Resampling of Beef Pasture, a subalpine fen located at 3,060 m asl along the western flank of the La Plata Mountains, 25 km northwest of Durango, Colorado, resulted in a new paleoclimate record derived from 71 pollen samples chronologically anchored by 16 14C samples beginning about 200 BC.Various proxies (ponderosa pine/spruce ratios for temperature and sedge/cheno-am ratios for winter precipitation) show that temperatures and winter precipitation below their long-term means prevailed from about AD 800 to 1000, and from the early AD 1200s until about 1400. These two declines coincide with the two episodes of depopulation of the VEP area.

Keywords: paleotemperature; climate; pollen; Little Ice Age; low-frequency climate variation; Beef Pasture; La Plata Mountains; depopulation; radiocarbon dating; Village Ecodynamics Project

Chapter.  6719 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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