The incidence of microscopic charcoal in late glacial deposits

Kevin John Edwards, G Whittington, R Tipping

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Microscopic charcoal is not routinely counted by those investigating late glacial deposits - it is largely the domain of those pursuing anthropogenic questions relating to the Holocene interglacial. 23 sites dating to the Devensian late glacial (ca. 13,000-10,000 C-14 yr BP) in Scotland have charcoal records, and seven of these can be shown to have a high charcoal content, a phenomenon that has passed largely unremarked. We discuss patterns of charcoal representation and explore possible explanations for high charcoal abundances, especially in the Loch Lomond Stadial, including taphonomy (e.g, secondary erosion of charcoal-bearing deposits; long-distance transport) aridity (especially during the Loch Lomond Stadial); warmth and effective precipitation (especially during the late glacial Interstadial); and humanly-caused fires (Upper Palaeolithic). Available data do not allow the establishment of clear relationships between vegetation types and charcoal abundance. It is suggested that patterns of burning may need to be considered in the context of arid-wet shifts in climate. It is probable that combinations of factors are responsible for the late glacial charcoal records, but the difficulty remains that too few data are routinely collected or available for study. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-262
Number of pages16
JournalPalaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology
Volume164
Publication statusPublished - 2000

Keywords

  • fire
  • late glacial
  • microscopic charcoal
  • pollen
  • Scotland
  • NORTH-ATLANTIC
  • POLLEN RECORDS
  • WESTERN-ISLES
  • ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY
  • VEGETATIONAL HISTORY
  • EVENT STRATIGRAPHY
  • EASTERN SCOTLAND
  • FIFE
  • CLIMATE
  • EUROPE

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