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Tip Sheet:

October 30, 2003
GSA Release No. 03-33
Contact: Christa Stratton

The Road First Traveled: Peopling of the New World

Boulder, Colo.- Two long-standing, contentious issues for archaeologists involve the timing and circumstances under which humans first arrived in the New World. Once people crossed Beringia (also known as the Bering Land Bridge) during the late Pleistocene, little is known about the environment they encountered and how they migrated southward.

At the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Seattle next week, a group of eminent archaeologists and geologists will bring together their latest research and distinctive perspectives. In developing a holistic view of the peopling of the Americas, questions include:

  • Did these first immigrants travel down the coast of North America?
  • If so, was there an ice-free coastal route or were there at least some exposed land areas? (This issue is complicated by the fact that the land is now under water.)
  • Alternatively, did people travel down an interior ice-free corridor in Canada?
  • If so, when and where did the corridor open?

Speakers include:

  • Julie Brigham-Grette, Dept. of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts. Brigham-Grette will give a paleoenvironmental overview of Beringia, the 1000-kilometer herb-covered tundra that separated the Bering Sea and North Pacific from the Arctic Ocean.
  • Daniel Mann, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska. Mann will discuss the coastal route hypothesis and some of the constraints imposed by glaciers, sea levels, ecosystems, and cultural and biological factors.
  • Jon M. Erlandson, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Oregon. Erlandson will speak about the marine ecology of possible coastal migration routes, including kelp forests along Pacific coastlines and how they may have supported maritime migration.
  • Andrea K. Freeman, Dept. of Archaeology, University of Calgary. Freeman will present recent geoarchaeological advances in understanding the ice-free corridor as it relates to early Paleoindian occupation of western Canada.

A complete list of speakers and all abstracts may be viewed at:

The Peopling of the New World: Geology, Archaeology, and Paleoenvironments
Sunday, Nov. 2, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., WSCTC Ballroom 6A


Julie Brigham-Grette
University of Massachusetts

Daniel Mann
University of Alaska

Jon M. Erlandson
University of Oregon

Andrea K. Freeman
University of Calgary

During the GSA Annual Meeting, Nov. 2-5, contact Ann Cairns at the GSA Newsroom, Washington State Convention Center and Trade Center, Seattle, for assistance and to arrange for interviews: 206-219-4615.

Geological Society of America
115th Annual Meeting
Nov. 2-5, 2003
Washington State Convention and Trade Center
Seattle, WA, USA

Geological Society of America


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