Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction through mineralogical and geochemical characterisation of guano-derived phosphate deposits in a tropical karst environment: a preliminary approach applied to Tabon C
Omar Choa (Muséum national d'histoire naturelle)
Eusebio Dizon (National Museum of the Philippines)
Paper short abstract:
Tabon Cave is a key site for understanding early modern human dispersals in Southeast Asia. While palaeoenvironmental reconstruction is complicated by the scarcity of traditional proxies, the rich guano deposits promise to shed light on the early relationship between man and nature in the region.
Paper long abstract:
Tabon Cave (Palawan, Philippines) is a key piece in the puzzle that is the story of early modern human dispersals in Southeast Asia, having delivered Homo sapiens remains that date back to at least around 35,000 years ago. The study of its palaeoenvironment would contribute towards understanding how early modern humans in tropical contexts interacted with their surroundings. Nevertheless, the relative scarcity of traditional palaeoenvironmental proxies in the site, such as bones, pollen, and shells, complicates efforts. A feature in which the site is relatively rich, however, is stratified guano deposits in various stages of alteration. The authigenic phosphate minerals that characterise these layers are known to form according to certain chemical parameters that are linked to environmental conditions. In this study, we propose a preliminary approach to palaeoenvironmental reconstruction in Tabon Cave based on mineralogical characterisation and stable isotope analysis of its guano-derived phosphate deposits. The results are expected to shed further light on the complex relationship between the history of Tabon Cave and its occupants, using a specific approach that is innovative for Pleistocene sites in Southeast Asia.