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Science. 2001 Oct 5;294(5540):148-51.

Late Holocene climate and cultural changes in the southwestern United States.

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  • 1Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico, 200 Yale Boulevard, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.

Erratum in

  • Science 2001 Oct 12;294(5541):306.


Columnar stalagmites in caves of the Guadalupe Mountains during the late Holocene record a 4000-year annually resolved climate history for the southwestern United States. Annual banding, hiatuses, and high-precision uranium-series dating show a present day-like climate from 4000 to 3000 years ago, following a drier middle Holocene. A distinctly wetter and cooler period from 3000 to 800 years ago was followed by a period of present day-like conditions, with the exception of a slightly wetter interval from 440 to 290 years before the present. The stalagmite record correlates well with the archaeological record of changes in cultural activities of indigenous people. Such climate change may help to explain evidence of dwelling abandonment and population redistribution.

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