Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

J Steven Kite


This study utilizes sedimentary, pedological, and archaeological data recovered from the West Blennerhassett site (46WD83-A), a deeply stratified archaeological site located at Blennerhassett Island, an Ohio River island in Wood County, West Virginia, to determine a site-specific history of landform evolution and natural site formation processes. Archaeological investigations were conducted at West Blennerhassett by the Cultural Resources Section of Michael Baker Jr., Inc. in 2002 and 2003 as part of the environmental studies for the U.S. Route 50 Blennerhassett Bridge Project for the West Virginia Division of Highways and the Federal Highways Administration. These investigations revealed stratified archaeological deposits extending to a minimum of 5 m in Holocene alluvium and dating from approximately 8660 B.P.;Results of particle-size analysis, bolstered by a robust radiocarbon chronology, indicate that the West Blennerhassett site was a rapidly accreting, dynamic, near-channel environment from at least 8660 to 7010 B.P. Rapid sedimentation and high-energy floods gave way to a more quiescent setting at ca. 7010 B.P., apparently as a result of vertical accretion of the site coupled with vertical incision and, possibly, lateral migration of the Ohio River channel. Alluvial sedimentation rates remained slow and the site was dominated by a low-energy overbank flood regime until ca. 3000 B.P. A distinct discontinuity in the sedimentary stratigraphy at ca. 3000 B.P. marks a return of a relatively high-energy flood regime, presumably due to combined climatic and anthropogenic factors.;Archaeological deposits from the early Holocene, prior to 7010 B.P., were subject to high-energy Ohio River discharges; some were reworked or eroded, while others were sealed in discrete contexts. A hiatus in human occupation of the site occurred between ca. 7010 and 4315 B.P., but was followed by serial occupations throughout the late Holocene. Slow sedimentation rates have resulted in minimal vertical separation between assemblages from individual occupations in the late Holocene. As such, occupation-specific archaeological assemblages deposited after 4315 B.P. are essentially indiscernible.