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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, July 22, 2010

Kansas Geological Survey Scientist To Receive Award for Publication

LAWRENCE--A scientist at Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas has been named recipient of an award from the Geological Society of America for his investigation of soils in the Central Plains that may hold traces of ancient human cultures.

Rolfe Mandel, a geoarcheologist at the Survey and the KU Department of Anthropology, is being honored for his published work on buried soils in Kansas and Nebraska stream valleys that could contain evidence of hunting and cooking activities 9,000 or more years ago.

The Kirk Bryan award for excellence in publication will be presented at GSA's annual meeting in October by the organization's Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology Division. The division promotes research on the Quaternary period covering the past 1.8 million years and geomorphology, the study of landforms and the processes that create them.

Mandel's research focuses on the relationship between geology and the archeological record. In his article he identifies areas, based on radioactive dating of organic matter in soils, that would be prime locations for further archeological investigation of past cultures. The soil samples ranged in age from about 9,000 to 14,000 years old.

Although numerous Paleoindian spear points have been found at the surface in the Central Plains, little evidence of camps or animal kill sites has been discovered. According to Mandel, such sites were likely buried by stream sedimentation over the last 9,000 years, making them hard to detect.

Soil samples for this study were collected at 48 locations, mostly from natural stream cutbanks on tributaries of major Kansas rivers, including the Kansas, Arkansas, Republican, Cimarron, and Neosho rivers.

Mandel's article, "Buried Paleoindian-age Landscapes in Stream Valleys of the Central Plains, USA" was published in the journal "Geomorphology." He has written a number of other scientific publications and contributed to a volume on Kansas archeology published by the University Press of Kansas. He also is completing a two-year term as president of the American Quaternary Association.

The Geological Society of America, a worldwide association with nearly 20,000 members in 85 countries, advances the geosciences and provides a forum for diverse ideas.

Links of interest to this article:
Information on the award from the Geological Society of America

Story by Cathy Evans, (785) 864-2195.
For more information, contact Rolfe Mandel, (785) 864-2171.

Kansas Geological Survey, Public Outreach