Glacial kettles as archives of early human settlement along the Northern Rocky Mountain Front

François B. Lanoë, Maria N Zedeno, Anna M. Jansson, Vance T. Holliday, Joshua D. Reuther

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Northern Rocky Mountain Front (hereafter Northern Front) is a prominent geographic feature in archaeological models of human dispersal in the terminal Pleistocene and Early Holocene of North America. Testing those models has been arduous because of local geomorphological factors that tend to obliterate or otherwise limit access to archaeological finds of relevant age. In this paper, we present well-stratified archaeological and environmental records dating back to 14,000-13,000 cal yr BP from the site of Billy Big Spring (Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Montana), located on a glacial kettle, a type of landform that has been largely ignored by regional archaeological research to date. Findings from Billy Big Spring show the continuous use of the Northern Front foothills throughout the major climatic and environmental disturbances of the Early Holocene, and possibly the terminal Pleistocene as well. As such, Billy Big Spring contributes to refining several archaeological models of early settlement of the Northern Front, particularly those that posit differential use of foothills versus plains settings during the midst of the Holocene Thermal Maximum. The record at Billy Big Spring also suggests that kettles, regardless of physiographic setting, provide a yet unsuspected and unsampled potential for preserving high-quality and easily accessible early archaeological and paleoenvironmental records.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-150
Number of pages16
JournalQuaternary Research (United States)
StatePublished - Jan 10 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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