The spring located about ten miles from the Gulf of Mexico consists of a sinkhole fed by an aquifer that is thousands of feet deep. All the dissolved oxygen in the Spring's water is absorbed before it enters the bottom of the sinkhole, thus preventing agents of decomposition such as bacteria and microbes to survive. This unusual feature has allowed the preservation of a great deal of organic material deposited there thousands of years ago, explained John Gifford, associate professor at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and principal investigator for the project.
"Little Salt Spring is unique in its ability to preserve prehistoric artifacts and organic matter," said Gifford. "Excavation and careful study of environmental samples and other materials recovered from the site will help us discover if there were people here earlier than we had believed; it will help us understand who these people were and what way of life they practiced."
The preserve was donated to the University in 1982. In 2005, UM began an ongoing partnership with the Florida Aquarium (Tampa) who provides volunteer SCUBA divers to assist in the underwater research. In 2008, researchers from Washington State University and Pennsylvania State University began long-term collaborative projects studying the botanical remains, vertebrate paleontology, geology, and DNA of plant, animal and any human remains that might be found at the site. Last year, the National Geographic Society awarded funding to the University to explore the 90-foot-deep ledge deposits at LSS.
Objects excavated to date at LSS include deer antler tools, green s
|Contact: Marie Guma-Diaz|
University of Miami