Kevin Russell
Geological Research at the IGS

Studies at 20LU115: A stratified Late Woodland Archaeological Site

Status Start Date End Date Locations
completed Oct 1, 2015 Jul 31, 2016 Outside Indiana
Director: William Monaghan
Other Researchers: Kevin Russell William A. Lovis, Athropology and MSU Museum, Michigan State University Alan Arbogast, Geography, Michigan State University
Funding: U.S. National Park Service
Issue: The archaeological site that is buried within and eroding from dunes at Sleeping Bear Point is located within a designated wilderness area at the National Lakeshore, which means nothing is to be done the halt or interfere with the natural processes, including erosion, in the area. Non-interference with the process of erosion of an archaeological site is in direct conflict with the Park's mission of protecting rare or important cultural resources. Our work with assess the threat to the site and how best to resolve this conflict.
Objective: 1) Chronology of dune formation at sleeping bear point in relationship to coastal dune else where in lake Michigan. 2) Chronology of the archaeological site in relationship of other sites around the Lake Michigan shoreline. 3) Assessing the threat of the archaeological site if erosion continues at Sleeping Bear Dunes. 4) A ghost forest is associated with the paleosol and was composed mainly of White Pine. We will map the extent and density of this forest as represented by the location of buried (now exposed) stumps. 5) Assess the age of the archaeological site and how such sites are incorporated into dune. 6) provide a chronology to the cobble beaches near the site to related water level in lake Michigan to coastal dune formation processes and archaeological site formation, and
Approach: We will assess the timing for dune formation and the length of stability represented by the paleosol through OSL dating of the upper and lower dune and radiocarbon dating applied to organic material in the paleosol and wood from the ghost forest trees. Chronology of beach ridge formation will be obtained using OSL sampled from pits dug into the ridge. Altitudes will be obtained using mapping (total station) methods.
Products: We will provide a final report to the park service and publish additional scientific articles about our results.
Benefits: Our work with begin to look at how the threat to the site and its wilderness designation can best be resolved. We will also learn about shoreline processes and the chronology of Holocene water levels within an isostatically stable (mainly) region.

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