Diatoms and Archaeology

Group Leader

mrcelo morales Marcelo Morales
Investigador Adjunto, CONICET

It is widely known that the assemblages of organisms that live in aquatic environments are modified in response to changing environmental conditions, so the sedimentological record contained in these water bodies becomes a valuable archive that allows the reconstruction of past environmental conditions. One of the most commonly used biological proxies are diatoms, since they are considered excellent paleolimnological indicators because their siliceous shells are generally abundant and well preserved in lake sediments. The goal of this line of work focuses on the understanding of the nature and characteristics of the relationship between social and environmental changes along the entire sequence of human occupation in arid regions of Argentina. The detection of local expressions of known global climate changes such as Pleistocene-Holocene transition, the onset of the arid phase called Hypsitermal, the onset of current frequency and intensity of “El Niño-La Niña” events (ENSO), the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) and Little Ice Age (LIA), among others, are a key issue for understanding the dynamics and characteristics of the scenarios that human groups must deal with. Knowing the characteristics of these climate changes allow us to improve our understanding of the dynamics of human habitats, fostering the generation of more accurate hypotheses and explanatory models about several organizational features of the groups that inhabited different arid areas of Argentina in the past.

The main goals in this line of research include:

  • The characterization of the main paleoenvironmental conditions and their variability in desert areas starting at the Last Glacial Maximum in different space-time scales.
  • Establishing the nature of the impact (ie intensity, duration, extension) of different paleoenvironmental changes, particularly those associated with the Medieval Climatic Anomaly, Little Ice Age and the Hypsitermal.
  • Creating multi-scale models of the resources structure in the studied areas, based on paleoclimatic and paleoecological trends generated with the information derived from these studies.
  • Based on these models, we seek to derive specific archaeological hypotheses that summarize the main organizational patterns of human groups in the varied Holocene environmental scenarios.