A comparison and integration of tree-ring and alluvial records of fire history at the Missionary Ridge Fire, Durango, Colorado, USA

Erica Bigio, Thomas Swetnam, Christopher H. Baisan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We used tree-ring and alluvial sediment methods to reconstruct past fire regimes for a mixed conifer forest within a 1 km2 drainage basin which was severely burned by a wildfire near Durango, Colorado. Post-fire debris flow events incised the valley-filling alluvial sediments in the lower basin, and created exposures of fire-related of deposits of late-Holocene age. Tree-ring and alluvial sediment fire history records were created separately, and then compared and integrated to create a ~ 3000 year record of past fire activity. The tree-ring record showed that from AD 1679 to 1879, there were frequent surface fires, while patches of high-severity fire occurred during widespread fire years. The alluvial record showed that a low- to moderate-and mixed-severity fire regime has likely been dominant over the past ~ 2600 calibrated calendar years before present, as shown by locally episodic deposition of charcoal-rich, fine-grained sediments. Radiocarbon dating suggested that in two stratigraphic sections, there was rapid deposition of several fine-grained sediment layers. One of these episodes occurred during the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (AD 900-1300). A charcoal-rich debris flow deposit in the oldest exposed part of the stratigraphic record dated to ~ 2600 calibrated calendar years before present. This event was potentially equivalent in magnitude to the debris-flow events following the recent wildfire in the study area, and is evidence of a high-severity fire that burned a large proportion of the study basin. The timing of this event coincides with a period of less frequent, yet more severe wildfires in a nearby lake sediment record, and is associated with the end of a Neoglacial period of cooler and wetter temperatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1047-1061
Number of pages15
JournalHolocene
Volume20
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Fingerprint

fire history
tree ring
wildfire
debris flow
alluvial deposit
fine grained sediment
charcoal
Medieval Warm Period
comparison
Tree Rings
Missionaries
Alluvial
History
Neoglacial
geological record
radiocarbon dating
basin
drainage basin
coniferous tree
lacustrine deposit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Palaeontology

Cite this

A comparison and integration of tree-ring and alluvial records of fire history at the Missionary Ridge Fire, Durango, Colorado, USA. / Bigio, Erica; Swetnam, Thomas; Baisan, Christopher H.

In: Holocene, Vol. 20, No. 7, 2010, p. 1047-1061.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{a4732b78ed6445f394b2e85d2a6cdbea,
title = "A comparison and integration of tree-ring and alluvial records of fire history at the Missionary Ridge Fire, Durango, Colorado, USA",
abstract = "We used tree-ring and alluvial sediment methods to reconstruct past fire regimes for a mixed conifer forest within a 1 km2 drainage basin which was severely burned by a wildfire near Durango, Colorado. Post-fire debris flow events incised the valley-filling alluvial sediments in the lower basin, and created exposures of fire-related of deposits of late-Holocene age. Tree-ring and alluvial sediment fire history records were created separately, and then compared and integrated to create a ~ 3000 year record of past fire activity. The tree-ring record showed that from AD 1679 to 1879, there were frequent surface fires, while patches of high-severity fire occurred during widespread fire years. The alluvial record showed that a low- to moderate-and mixed-severity fire regime has likely been dominant over the past ~ 2600 calibrated calendar years before present, as shown by locally episodic deposition of charcoal-rich, fine-grained sediments. Radiocarbon dating suggested that in two stratigraphic sections, there was rapid deposition of several fine-grained sediment layers. One of these episodes occurred during the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (AD 900-1300). A charcoal-rich debris flow deposit in the oldest exposed part of the stratigraphic record dated to ~ 2600 calibrated calendar years before present. This event was potentially equivalent in magnitude to the debris-flow events following the recent wildfire in the study area, and is evidence of a high-severity fire that burned a large proportion of the study basin. The timing of this event coincides with a period of less frequent, yet more severe wildfires in a nearby lake sediment record, and is associated with the end of a Neoglacial period of cooler and wetter temperatures.",
author = "Erica Bigio and Thomas Swetnam and Baisan, {Christopher H.}",
year = "2010",
doi = "10.1177/0959683610369502",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "20",
pages = "1047--1061",
journal = "Holocene",
issn = "0959-6836",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Ltd",
number = "7",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - A comparison and integration of tree-ring and alluvial records of fire history at the Missionary Ridge Fire, Durango, Colorado, USA

AU - Bigio, Erica

AU - Swetnam, Thomas

AU - Baisan, Christopher H.

PY - 2010

Y1 - 2010

N2 - We used tree-ring and alluvial sediment methods to reconstruct past fire regimes for a mixed conifer forest within a 1 km2 drainage basin which was severely burned by a wildfire near Durango, Colorado. Post-fire debris flow events incised the valley-filling alluvial sediments in the lower basin, and created exposures of fire-related of deposits of late-Holocene age. Tree-ring and alluvial sediment fire history records were created separately, and then compared and integrated to create a ~ 3000 year record of past fire activity. The tree-ring record showed that from AD 1679 to 1879, there were frequent surface fires, while patches of high-severity fire occurred during widespread fire years. The alluvial record showed that a low- to moderate-and mixed-severity fire regime has likely been dominant over the past ~ 2600 calibrated calendar years before present, as shown by locally episodic deposition of charcoal-rich, fine-grained sediments. Radiocarbon dating suggested that in two stratigraphic sections, there was rapid deposition of several fine-grained sediment layers. One of these episodes occurred during the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (AD 900-1300). A charcoal-rich debris flow deposit in the oldest exposed part of the stratigraphic record dated to ~ 2600 calibrated calendar years before present. This event was potentially equivalent in magnitude to the debris-flow events following the recent wildfire in the study area, and is evidence of a high-severity fire that burned a large proportion of the study basin. The timing of this event coincides with a period of less frequent, yet more severe wildfires in a nearby lake sediment record, and is associated with the end of a Neoglacial period of cooler and wetter temperatures.

AB - We used tree-ring and alluvial sediment methods to reconstruct past fire regimes for a mixed conifer forest within a 1 km2 drainage basin which was severely burned by a wildfire near Durango, Colorado. Post-fire debris flow events incised the valley-filling alluvial sediments in the lower basin, and created exposures of fire-related of deposits of late-Holocene age. Tree-ring and alluvial sediment fire history records were created separately, and then compared and integrated to create a ~ 3000 year record of past fire activity. The tree-ring record showed that from AD 1679 to 1879, there were frequent surface fires, while patches of high-severity fire occurred during widespread fire years. The alluvial record showed that a low- to moderate-and mixed-severity fire regime has likely been dominant over the past ~ 2600 calibrated calendar years before present, as shown by locally episodic deposition of charcoal-rich, fine-grained sediments. Radiocarbon dating suggested that in two stratigraphic sections, there was rapid deposition of several fine-grained sediment layers. One of these episodes occurred during the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (AD 900-1300). A charcoal-rich debris flow deposit in the oldest exposed part of the stratigraphic record dated to ~ 2600 calibrated calendar years before present. This event was potentially equivalent in magnitude to the debris-flow events following the recent wildfire in the study area, and is evidence of a high-severity fire that burned a large proportion of the study basin. The timing of this event coincides with a period of less frequent, yet more severe wildfires in a nearby lake sediment record, and is associated with the end of a Neoglacial period of cooler and wetter temperatures.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=77958020189&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=77958020189&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1177/0959683610369502

DO - 10.1177/0959683610369502

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:77958020189

VL - 20

SP - 1047

EP - 1061

JO - Holocene

JF - Holocene

SN - 0959-6836

IS - 7

ER -