Prehistoric Resilience in the
Islands of the Four Mountains

CWU Geology graduate student Frances Griswold and Geology Professor Bre Macinnes will be part of a cross-disciplinary team of researchers working in the Islands of the Four Moutains, in the Aleutian Islands chain of Alaska this summer.

The research group will be posting information about the field season and their findings as the research proceeds. Check out their Facebook page and follow their Twitter feed. There are already lots of interesting posts about their preparations.

Some background about the Islands of the Four Mountains project

Aleutian island and volcano Extending 1800 km between the North American and Asian continents, the Aleutian Islands divide the northern Pacific Ocean from the Bering Sea. Given their unique subpolar location, their genesis on a volcanically and seismically active plate boundary, and the gradual colonization by humans during the past 8000+ years, the Aleutian Islands are an excellent natural archaeological laboratory for tracking past: (1) human ecology, (2) subarctic human-environmental reciprocal relationships and, (3) geological influences—sometimes catastrophic—on human society. This project, international and interdisciplinary in scope, will study the connections among geological, ecological, and human systems in the Islands of the Four Mountains, Aleutian Islands. Host to some of the world’s most active volcanoes, the Four Mountains present a superlative opportunity to assess the development of prehistoric human risk management of and adaptations to geological instability (climate change, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, sea level change) through deep time. Four Mountain prehistoric sites have been little studied but are highly significant in light of new geologic data indicating volcanic activity during human migration and societal development in the Aleutians. Extensive new data expected from these sites will yield novel insights into North Pacific Rim regional interactions, Aleut coping mechanisms, changing subsistence, and adaptations during the prehistoric and European contact periods.