Freshwater Availability and Prehistoric Settlement Patterns on California’s Northern Channel Islands


An important variable that influenced prehistoric human settlement patterns on California’s northern Channel Islands was the availability of freshwater. Existing models of settlement use watershed size as a proxy for water availability. However, in semi-arid regions, this approach has limitations because ephemeral streams common in these environments may lose much or all of their flow to groundwater. We have developed a hydrological model that incorporates measured and modeled geospatial/temporal data for climate (precipitation, solar radiation, wind speed, relative humidity, temperature), soils, vegetation, and topography to simulate the complex land-surface-groundwater behavior of island hydrology. We also discuss the role of fog and fog-drip as a freshwater input into this system. We discuss the implications of this model for the location of permanent settlements on the northern Channel Islands during the past 5,000 years. Climate projections are constructed as input to the model for hypothetical 100-year intervals that represent wet, dry, and average conditions.

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Cite this Record

Freshwater Availability and Prehistoric Settlement Patterns on California’s Northern Channel Islands. Christopher Jazwa, Lorne Leonard, Chris Duffy, Douglas Kennett. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395126)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;