Rivers, humans, and the dark soils of the ancient Amazon - Dr. Taylor Perron, MIT
Taylor Perron, Professor of Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abstract: Archaeological evidence suggests that humans built thriving agricultural societies in the ancient Amazon, in part by creating unusually rich soils that remain fertile even today. However, it is unknown how extensive these soils are or whether they were created intentionally. I will show how South American river systems created a template for this successful agricultural strategy, make the case that ancient people managed soil using practices that are still employed today by Amazonian indigenous groups, and demonstrate the potential for carbon storage in anthropogenic soils. Along the way, I will consider the climate sensitivity of rivers and some lessons from ancient peoples about sustainable tropical agriculture.
About the speaker: Taylor Perron is Professor of Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences at MIT. He is best known for his work on how rivers shape topography on Earth and other planets. Prof. Perron is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, a recipient of the James B. Macelwane Medal, and a MacArthur fellow. He holds an AB in Earth and Planetary Sciences and Archaeology from Harvard University and a PhD in Earth and Planetary Science from the University of California, Berkeley.