Holocene Alluvial Geoarchaeology of the Memorial Park Site (36Cn164), West Branch Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania

TitleHolocene Alluvial Geoarchaeology of the Memorial Park Site (36Cn164), West Branch Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsCremeens, DL, Hart, JP
JournalArchaeology of Eastern North America
KeywordsArchaeology, Fragipan, Port Huron terrace, Susquehanna River basin

The Memorial Park Site (36Cn164) is a deeply stratified, multicomponent prehistoric site on a Holocene terrace of the West Branch Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania. Archaeological excavations and geoarchaeological analyses revealed silt loam to loam overbank sediments, punctuated by seven buried soils spanning a time interval of 7090-1480 yrs B.P. Changes in the buried surficial environments and soils were the result of the late Pleistocene to Holocene channel dynamics of the West Branch and the formation three landforms: the evolving Port Huron terrace, an abandoned channel remnant, and a natural levee. The eastward migration of the West Branch meander channel resulted in lateral and vertical variability in the distinctness of the buried soils. Older, more stable geomorphic surfaces prevailed on the western portion of the site, defining the Port Huron terrace, a pedocomplex of a fragipan Btx horizon superimposed over one or more weakly developed soils. The Port Huron terrace was the primary focus of occupation during the mid-Holocene. Younger, less stable geomorphic surfaces characterize the eastern portions of the site and define the abandoned channel remnant and the natural levee. These landforms are characterized with thin, diffuse Ab horizons associated with weak B horizons and C horizons. The natural levee and channel remnant were not intensively used until ca. 4500-5000 B.P. when these landforms first afforded elevated, stable loci for human activity. The upper two buried soils extend across the entire site and contain evidence of site-wide late Holocene occupations. These uppermost soils formed in sediments that blanketed the terrace-channel-levee topography.