Combining visual and geochemical analyses to source chert on Southern Baffin Island, Arctic Canada
Article first published online: 17 JUN 2009
Copyright © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 24, Issue 4, pages 429–449, July/August 2009
How to Cite
Milne, S. B., Hamilton, A. and Fayek, M. (2009), Combining visual and geochemical analyses to source chert on Southern Baffin Island, Arctic Canada. Geoarchaeology, 24: 429–449. doi: 10.1002/gea.20273
- Issue published online: 17 JUN 2009
- Article first published online: 17 JUN 2009
- Manuscript Accepted: 6 MAR 2009
- Manuscript Received: 5 SEP 2008
A combined methodological approach using visual and geochemical methods is introduced and preliminary results of a study illustrating its effectiveness to determine chert source provenance are presented. This study focuses on lithic debitage and raw chert samples collected from the interior of southern Baffin Island, Arctic Canada. Chert is abundant throughout this region yet it occurs as small, scattered surface nodules that are highly variable in color. Prior to this study, little was known about the provenance of this local toolstone and whether it derived from local outcrops, glacial till sheets, or both. Given the pronounced variability exhibited by this chert, we use individual attribute analysis and petrography to impose some kind of analytical order upon an otherwise random aggregation of rocks. Thereafter, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and secondary ion mass spectrometry are used to test the validity of these color categories to determine from how many geochemically distinct sources they derive. Using a standard that measures Al to a ratio of Ga/Zr, our results indicate that all of the raw chert samples derive from a single local source, while the debitage derives from four different sources, including the one that is local. We are confident that this combined methodological approach can be applied in other regions where chert variability is pronounced and source provenance is unknown. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.