• The Formation of Deluvial and Alluvial Cones as a Consequence of Human Settlement on a Loess Plateau: An Example from the Chroberz Area (Poland)

      Szwarczewski, Piotr (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      The area of Chroberz (southern Poland) poses questions of an interdisciplinary character comprising geomorphologic, sedimentation, and archaeological-historical problems. The main aim of this study was to identify the geomorphologic response to changes in the natural environment that took place in the area of the loess plateau (and its close vicinity) as a result of its settlement by man and of climate change. Periods of particularly intense human activity (land-use changes, deforestation, and agriculture) were recorded as changes in the type of sedimentation, i.e. organic sedimentation substituted for mineral one; it was extremely intensive during the Neolithic Age, Iron Age, and Early Middle Ages. The conducted fieldwork research, analysis of available archaeological materials, and radiocarbon dating results show that there is a direct connection between human economic activity in primeval and historic times and between soil erosion and accumulation of colluvial/alluvial fans in the surroundings of the locality of Chroberz. 14C dates documenting the age of colluvial sediment formation show that individual areas of the upland were settled by humans asynchronously. On the basis of a low facial variability, or, occasionally, even homogeneity, of individual colluvia (from soil erosion) and their considerable thickness, it can be concluded that the land was in constant use or that the intervals with no human activity were relatively short. The progressing human impact process is visible both in the form progradation recorded as the changes in 14C ages (e.g. from 1440 +/- 100 to 780 +/- 80 BP) and in textural (e.g. chemical) features of sediments of which the examined fans are composed.