US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



In: Leaving Mesa Verde: Peril and Change in the Thirteenth-Century Southwest, ed. T. Kohler, A. Varien, & A. Wright (University of Arizona Press, 2010), pp. 53-74.


U.S. government work.


In this chapter, tree-ring dates from the southern Colorado Plateau, Mogollon Highlands, and Rio Grande areas (fig. 3-1) (hereafter referred to as the study area) are used to estimate regional-scale timber-harvesting and construction activities between AD 600 and 1600 (the Basketmaker III through Pueblo IV periods). Within that time span, we focus our attention particularly on the AD 1045-1300 period, a time when anomalously wet periods alternated with megadroughts (fig. 3.2). Treering- date distributions (histograms) for eight archaeological subregions within the study area have been created using a database of more than twenty-four thousand tree-ring dates from archaeological sites. These dates, in turn, are compared with the paleoclimatic record for the study area as a whole (fig. 3.2).