Geoarchaeology of stratified paleoindian deposits at the Big Eddy site, Southwest Missouri, U.S.A


The Big Eddy site (23CE426) in the Sac River valley of southwest Missouri is a rare recorded example of distinctly stratified Early through Late Paleoindian cultural deposits. Early point types recovered from the site include Gainey, Sedgwick, Dalton (fluted and unfluted), San Patrice, Wilson, and Packard. The Paleoindian record at Big Eddy represents only a fraction of the site's prehistoric cultural record; stratified cultural deposits in alluvium above the Paleoindian components span the entire known prehistoric sequence, and terminal Pleistocene alluvium may contain pre-Early Paleoindian cultural deposits. This study focused on the paleogeomorphic setting, stratigraphy, depositional environments, pedology, geochronology, and history of landscape evolution of the late Pleistocene and early Holocene alluvium at the site. The Paleoindian sequence is associated with a complex buried soil 2.85 m below the modern surface (T1a) of the first terrace of the Sac River valley in the site vicinity. This soil formed at the top of the early submember of the Rodgers Shelter Member (underlying the T1c paleogeomorphic surface) and contains at least 70 cm of stratified Paleoindian cultural deposits, all in floodplain and upper point-bar facies. A suite of 36 radiocarbon ages indicates that the alluvium hosting the Paleoindian sequence aggraded between ca. 13,250 and 11,870 cal yr B.P. (11,380 and 10,180 14C yr B.P.). Underlying deposits accumulated between ca. 15,300 and 13,250 cal yr B.P. (12,950 and 11,380 14C yr B.P.). By ca. 11,250 cal yr B.P. (9,840 14C yr B.P.) the T1c paleogeomorphic surface was buried by the earliest increment of a thick sequence of overbank sheetflood facies, ultimately resulting in deep burial and preservation of the Paleoindian record. The landform-sediment assemblage that hosts the Paleoindian and possibly earlier cultural deposits at Big Eddy is both widespread and well preserved in the lower Sac River valley. Moreover, the terminal Pleistocene and early Holocene depositional environments were favorable for the preservation of the archaeological record.


Sociology and Anthropology

Document Type




Publication Date


Journal Title