The northwestern Gulf of Mexico outer continental shelf includes approximately 38,660,700 acres of submerged land under federal permitting authority, which are in turn subject to NEPA and NHPA Section 106-compliant archaeological survey. Of those nearly 40 million acres, sea-level curve data correlating with periods of known human occupation in North America suggest that those portions of the outer continental shelf out to the 60 m depth contour could have been exposed as dry land and available for human occupation during the Late Pleistocene and early Holocene before sea-level reached current levels. After four decades of regulatory compliant survey and assessment, no definitive prehistoric archaeological sites have been identified on the outer continental shelf. Although this is a daunting statistic, it does not accurately reflect the state of submerged prehistoric research. It is necessary to assess the data as they pertain to establishing both the temporal and spatial context of submerged prehistoric archaeology.

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