Water-Level Reconstruction and its Implications for Late Pleistocene Paleontological Site Formation in Hoyo Negro, a Submerged Subterranean Pit in Quintana Roo, Mexico
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
A massive pit deep within the now submerged cave system of Sac Actun, located along the central east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, contains a diverse fossil assemblage of extinct megafauna as well as a nearly complete human skeleton. The inundated site of Hoyo Negro presents a unique and promising opportunity for interdisciplinary Paleoamerican and paleoenvironmental research in the region. Investigations have thus far revealed a range of associated features and deposits which make possible a multi-proxy approach to identifying and reconstructing the natural and cultural processes that have formed and transformed the site over millennia. Understanding water-level fluctuations (both related to, and independent from, eustatic sea level changes), with respect to cave morphology is central to understanding the movement of humans and animals into and through the cave system. Recent and ongoing studies involve absolute dating of human, faunal, macrobotanical, and geological samples; taphonomic analyses; and a characterization of site hydrogeology and sedimentological facies, including microfossil assemblages and calcite raft deposits.