Stan K. Duncan
SITE FORMATION PROCESSES: AN ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY OF THE MAPLE LEAF SITE 1864-1993.
(Under the direction of Professor Richard A. Stephenson) Department of History, March 1994.
The purpose of this thesis is the investigation and definition of the environmental and cultural formation processes affecting a submerged archaeological site in the St. Johns River, near Jacksonville, Florida. The site, Maple Leaf, is a Civil War transport vessel sunk in the St. Johns River by a Confederate torpedo in 1864. The vessel rests under four to eight feet of sediment and is currently under excavation.
In the case of Maple Leaf, an investigation into the depositional sequence of the site, using 210 Pb as a geochronometric indicator, suggested that the bottom of the St. Johns River in 1864 was similar to current bed conditions. Sediment extrusion occurred laterally as the vessel sank, displacing the sediment up or downstream. The wreck came to rest on a stable river bottom and the sediment covered Maple Leaf as a result of accumulation.
The complex and dynamic processes associated with the St. Johns River affect the environmental formation and stability of the site. The environmental processes are in turn effected by man. By identifying environmental and cultural factors which impose significant stress of submerged cultural resources, researchers can incorporate environmental data in order to ensure the survivability of underwater sites, including Maple Leaf.