The William G. Selby and Marie Selby Foundation has awarded the University of Miami (UM) a grant in the amount of $100,000 to manage and operate the Little Salt Spring (LSS) archeological and ecological preserve in North Port, Fla. LSS is a valuable prehistoric site due to its great age and exceptional preservation of ancient organic material.
spring, located about 10 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, was donated to the university
in 1982. The site consists of a sinkhole surrounded by an undisturbed native
hammock containing several rare and endangered plant species. The sinkhole is
filled with anoxic water, which does not allow bacteria and microbes to live.
This unusual feature has allowed the preservation of a great deal of organic
material deposited there thousands of years ago, explains John Gifford,
associate professor at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science,
and principal investigator for the project.
"The source of
water for this site is an aquifer thousands of feet deep; for that reason, all
its dissolved oxygen has been absorbed before it enters the bottom of the sinkhole,"
says Gifford. "We are hoping this anoxic environment will help us find
very early traces of organic material that will tell us when the first people
arrived in Florida."
Sinkhole, Deep Aquifer Create Unique Archeological Preserve
January 23, 2009