Geoarchaeology Short Course

Geoarchaeology Short Course

How understanding geomorphology and soils can improve your archaeology

August 24th – August 28th, 2020
Desert Research Institute
2215 Raggio Parkway
Reno, NV 89512

Cost: $750
A limited number of discounted student rates are available.

Geoarchaeology applies methods used in geosciences to archaeological questions. Geoarchaeology helps us understand: the source and transport history of artifacts, the age and spatial distribution of archaeological sites, factors that inuence site preservation, and climate and environmental conditions that would have inuenced human activities through time.

This short course is designed for archaeologists who want to better understand how the geological and geomorphic context of an archaeological site can inform our interpretations and sampling methodology, as well as our understanding of the broader regional cultural landscape.

Co-Instructors Dr. Teresa Wriston and Dr. Christina Neudorf will introduce fundamental concepts and methods, with topical contributing lectures by Dr. Amanda Keen-Zebert, Dr. Tom Bullard, JD Lancaster, Dr. Brad Sion, and Dr. Ken Adams.

Monday, August 24th

Desert Research Institute, 2215 Raggio Parkway, Stout Conference center

1:00 – 5:00 pm: Introduction (Teresa Wriston and Christina Neudorf )

  • Geoarchaeology
  • Geomorphology
  • Soils vs. Sediments
  • Sampling and Scale

Question for attendees: What archaeological problems do you hope this class can help you with?

Tuesday, August 25th

8:00 am – noon: Geomorphology (Christina Neudorf and Teresa Wriston)

  • Geology
  • Tectonic Factors
  • Environmental Factors
  • Erosion and Deposition
  • Landforms

noon – 1:00 pm: Lunch (provided) and DRI tour

1:00 – 4:00 pm: Soils (Tom Bullard and JD Lancaster)

  • Soil Formation
  • Classication and Description
  • Sampling and Interpretation

4:00 – 5:00 pm: Bioturbation (Christina Neudorf and Teresa Wriston)

  • Burrowing & Wallowing
  • Signicance – the good, the bad, the ugly

Wednesday, August 26th

8:00 am – noon: Stratigraphy (Teresa Wriston and Christina Neudorf )

  • Sedimentology
  • Soils
  • Interpretation
  • Archaeological Description
  • Considerations: Deposition, Erosion, Soil Formation

noon – 1:00 pm Lunch (provided) and DRI tour

1:00 – 5:00 pm: Geochronology and Sampling Methodology

  • Luminescence (Christina Neudorf & Amanda Keen-Zebert)
  • Laboratory Tour
  • Radiocarbon Ages (Christina Neudorf & Teresa Wriston)
  • Tephra & Others (Teresa Wriston & Christina Neudorf )
  • Cosmogenic Nuclides (Brad Sion)
  • Interpretation and Meaning of Ages

Thursday, August 27th

Meet at DRI, Stout Conference Center prepared for Field trip

8:00 – 5:00 pm: Field trip along Truckee River Corridor (lunch provided)

Friday, August 28th

8:00 – 10:00 am: Regional Focus – Great Basin Pluvial Lakes (Ken Adams)

10:00 – noon: Discussion

  • Overview and Summary
  • Review of Attendee Questions


Dr. Teresa Wriston, Ph.D., RPA – Geoarchaologist

Christina Neudorf, Ph.D. – Geochronologist

Contributing Lecturers

Amanda Keen-Zebert, Ph.D. – Geochronologist

Tom Bullard, Ph.D. – Soils Geomorphologist

JD Lancaster, M.A.I.S. – Geoarchaeologist

Brad Sion, Ph.D. – Geomorphologist

Kenneth Adams, Ph.D. – Geomorphologist


Teresa Wriston, Ph.D.
DRI Archaeologist & Assistant Research Professor

Christina Neudorf, Ph.D.
DRI Geochronologist & Assistant Research Professor 


Desert Research Institute
2215 Raggio Parkway
Reno, NV 89512