Water-Earth Dynamics, Challenge 1: Geomorphology — A Texas Panhandle Whodunit

The Llano Estacado is a region in the southwestern United States that encompasses parts of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas, including the South Plains and parts of the Texas Panhandle.

A landowner in Amarillo, a city in the Texas Panhandle, wishes to find the best way to utilize her land and stimulate the local economy in order to both profit from her investment and protect the environment.  While her land was being surveyed, human bones were discovered.  All work stopped while investigators attempted to determine how the human remains came to be in that location, and whether or not the area should be treated as a crime scene.  The police were baffled, so a geoforensics firm was retained to determine the age of the skeletal remains and how they came to rest in their current location.  The lead geoforensic scientist learned that the bones are the remains of a Paleoindian dated at 10,000 years before present (BP).  Although a modern-day crime was ruled out, the landowner decided to set aside part of her land to create an outdoor exhibit to honor the ancient Paleoindian settler, and to chronicle the geologic and archeological history of the Texas Panhandle region.

You are a consultant whom the landowner has hired to work with the geoforensic scientist to look for other evidence of a Paleoindian settlement in the area and develop elements of the exhibit.  Specifically, you are tasked with developing

  1. a series of maps with overlays showing topography, geology, and water resources;
  2. a slideshow showing the evolution of the landscape since the Last Glacial Maximum, emphasizing how the changing landscape and availability of water influences human habitation; and
  3. a map for university researchers, showing locations where they might be able to find additional evidence of Paleoindian habitation.

Your exhibit will be accompanied by a report that demonstrates how water shapes landscapes, drives human exploration, and affects the distribution and development of human populations.