Early retreat of the Alaska Peninsula Glacier Complex and the implications for coastal migrations of First Americans

Nicole Misarti, Bruce P. Finney, James W. Jordan, Herbert D.G. Maschner, Jason A. Addison, Mark D. Shapley, Andrea Krumhardt, James E. Beget

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The debate over a coastal migration route for the First Americans revolves around two major points: seafaring technology, and a viable landscape and resource base. Three lake cores from Sanak Island in the western Gulf of Alaska yield the first radiocarbon ages from the continental shelf of the Northeast Pacific and record deglaciation nearly 17. ka BP (thousands of calendar years ago), much earlier than previous estimates based on extrapolated data from other sites outside the coastal corridor in the Gulf of Alaska. Pollen data suggest an arid, terrestrial ecosystem by 16.3. ka BP. Therefore glaciers would not have hindered the movement of humans along the southern edge of the Bering Land Bridge for two millennia before the first well-recognized " New World" archaeological sites were inhabited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - Aug 10 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was financially supported by the National Science Foundation grants NSF OPP 0326584, NSF BE/CNH 0508101, and NSF 0817711 . We would like to thank Dr. Eric Grimm for his advice on deriving the age models of our lake cores. We would also like to thank Dr. Nancy Bigelow for her work with the pollen data. We greatly appreciate assistance and permissions given by the Pauloff Harbor Tribe, the Sanak Corporation and the village of King Cove, Alaska.

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Coastal migration
  • Deglaciation
  • First Americans


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