Journal of Archaeological Science
We report the results of LA-ICP-MS analysis of 402 quartzite samples representing 48 collection loci in the Upper Gunnison Basin (UGB), Colorado and determine the extent to which the sources can be geochemically discriminated from one another using this non-destructive technique. The ability to differentiate among the sources would open the door to provenance studies of the quartzite chipped-stone tools and debitage that constitute 95% or more of most of the 3000-plus prehistoric site assemblages documented in the UGB. Our samples represent prehistorically quarried and non-quarried quartzite sources, including outcrop (primary) and gravel (secondary) deposits. The results reveal spatial and chronological trends in quartzite elemental composition that can be exploited for provenance determinations of quartzite artifacts from UGB sites, albeit using an assemblage-based sourcing strategy that differs from the familiar approach of “matching” obsidian artifacts to their statistically likeliest geological source. We offer a preliminary version of a sourcing protocol for UGB quartzite.
Pitblado, B.L., Cannon, M.B., Neff, H., Dehler, C.M., Nelson, S.T., LA-ICPMS Analysis of Quartzite from the Upper Gunnison Basin, Colorado, Journal of Archaeological Science (2013), doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.11.016.