Reconstructing Caribbean Paleotopography during the Holocene: Implications for Archaeology and Biogeography

Author(s): Bill Buhay; Amy Daradich; Matthew Peros

Year: 2015


Our understanding of the Holocene sea level history of the Caribbean Sea is improving through the development and analysis of mangrove and coral-based relative sea level data. In this poster we present a time-series of maps showing how the paleotopography of the region changed throughout the Holocene. The maps were generated using a recently developed model of Caribbean sea level change that incorporates the effects of both eustasy and isostasy to model past sea level positions. The results show that shallow water areas such as the Bahamas, south Florida, and parts of Cuba would have been exposed subaerially during much of the Holocene. In addition, a fairly dense archipelago would have existed from the coast of Nicaragua to Jamaica (the Nicaragua Rise). As relative sea level rose through the Holocene, many of these islands and shelves were submerged, most disappearing between 4000 to 5000 cal yr BP. The sea level model does not include the effects of tectonics or sedimentation. Nevertheless, our findings have implications for the peopling of the Caribbean (as well as the migration of plants and animals) as a range of potential migration routes from Central America would have been available.

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Cite this Record

Reconstructing Caribbean Paleotopography during the Holocene: Implications for Archaeology and Biogeography. Matthew Peros, Amy Daradich, Bill Buhay. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396629)


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min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;