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Abstract Title word: Did climate drive the human colonisation of the South Pacific?

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IG15 - Lake Studies of Environmental Change
Friday, June 08, 2018 | 322B | 11:00-12:30
IG15-D5-AM2-322B-002 (IG15-A007)
Did Climate Drive the Human Colonisation of the South Pacific? New Evidence from Multi-Proxy Lake Sediment Records
David SEAR#+
University of Southampton, United Kingdom
#Corresponding author: +Presenter

The island archipelagos of the south pacific were among the last places colonised by humans. Debates exist over the precise timing of the arrival of people, and the duration of the “long pause” between arrival in Tonga and Samoa, and the move east into remote Polynesia. There is also a debate over the precise cause of the colonisation, with different scientific communities advocating climate, social unrest, population growth and a process of exploration. In part the debates have been caused by two issues; first the disparity between archaeological dates and those from other palaeoenvironmental archives, and secondly the absence of robust palaeoclimate records from the region. In this paper we report a new suite of multiproxy archives from Samoa and the southern Cook Islands that reconstruct both hydroclimate and human arrival using lake sediments. Use of short-lived materials for radiocarbon dating, brings lake dates in line with archaeologically derived estimates for the date of human arrival in both islands. Reconstructed hydroclimate from the same cores, point towards colonisation occurring during or shortly after major dry phases on Samoa, supporting arguments for a climatic forcing for the decision to migrate east into the pacific.