Elemental and Isotopic Variability in Mogollon-Datil Province Archaeological Obsidian, Western New Mexico

Author(s): Leah Morgan; M. Shackley

Year: 2015


The Mogollon-Datil Volcanic Province in western New Mexico has been a subject of geological and geoarchaeological research for over three decades. These Tertiary Period major events incorporated significant areas of crust over tens of thousands of km2 and the rhyolite glass produced from these events are consequently similar in elemental composition even though the five major sources are isolated over a 100 linear km radius, and cross a number of cultural territorial boundaries in the late prehistoric period. The obsidian sources are also archaeologically significant in that they were used throughout the chronology from Paleoindian through Historic times (ca. 13,000 ka to ≈A.D. 1600), and transported throughout the North American Southwest. The need to discriminate between these sources is crucial to archaeological interpretation. The elemental composition using mainly laboratory x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) is so similar between these sources, and the number of cultural territories throughout prehistory is so extensive that extreme care in source assignment is required. An isotopic and 40Ar/39Ar dating program was employed to provide discriminating clarity with good results. The isotopic and 40Ar/39Ar data do indicate that these sources are distinct, and using these results, a strategy for discriminating sources was devised using laboratory XRF.

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Cite this Record

Elemental and Isotopic Variability in Mogollon-Datil Province Archaeological Obsidian, Western New Mexico. M. Shackley, Leah Morgan. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397347)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;