The complexity of the age dating of the Pleistocene ice-dammed paleolakes in the Altai Mountains is a reason why geologists consider the Early Paleolithic archaeological sites as an independent age marker for dating geological objects. However, in order to use these sites for paleogeographic reconstructions, their locations, the character of stratification, and the age of stone artifacts need to be comprehensively studied. We investigate 20 Late Paleolithic archaeological sites discovered in the Chuya depression of the Russian Altai (Altai Mountains) with the aim of their possible use for reconstructions of the period of development of the Kurai–Chuya glacio-limnosystem in the Late Neopleistocene. The results of our investigation show that it is improper to use the Paleolithic archaeological sites for the dating of the existence period and the draining time of ice-dammed lakes of the Chuya Depression in the modern period of their study owing to a lack of quantitative age estimates, a wide age range of possible existence of these sites, possible redeposition of the majority of artifacts, and their surface occurrence. It is established that all stratified sites where cultural layers are expected to be dated in the future lie above the uppermost and well-expressed paleolake level (2100 m a.s.l.). Accordingly, there are no grounds to determine the existence time of shallower paleolakes. Since the whole stone material collected below the level of 2100 m a.s.l. is represented by surface finds, it is problematic to use these artifacts for absolute geochronology. The Late Paleolithic Bigdon and Chechketerek sites are of great interest for paleogeographic reconstructions of ice-dammed lakes. The use of iceberg rafting products as cores is evidence that these sites appeared after the draining of a paleolake (2000 m a.s.l.). At this time, the location of these archaeological sites on the slope of the Chuya Depression allows one to assume the existence of a large lake as deep as 250 m synchronously with the above paleolake or later. The location of the lowermost archaeological sites is evidence that a paleolake could have existed at an altitude below 1770 m a.s.l. in the Late Neopleistocene–Early Holocene. The absolute geochronology of the archaeological sites (cultural layers in multilayered sites, split surfaces on dropstones, etc.) can be useful for further reconstructions of the existence time, depths, and a number of ice-dammed lakes in the Kurai–Chuya system of depressions.
Stratigraphy and Geological Correlation – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 3, 2017
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