Over 16,000 years of fire frequency determined from ams radiocarbon dating of soil charcoal in an alluvial fan at bear flat, northeastern british columbia

A. J. Timothy Jull, Marten Geertsema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present results of radiocarbon dating of charcoal from paleosols and buried charcoal horizons in a unique sequence, which potentially records the last 36,000 yr, from a fan at Bear Flat, British Columbia (BC) (56°16′51″N, 121°13′39″W). Evidence for forest-fire charcoal is found over the last 13,500 ± 110 14C yr before present (BP) or 16,250 ± 700 cal BP. The study area is located east of the Rocky Mountains in an area that was ice-free at least 13,970 ± 170 14C yr BP (17,450-16,150 cal BP) ago. The latest evidence of fire is during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP). The charcoal ages show a periodicity in large fires on a millennial scale through the Holocene-an average of 4 fires per thousand years. Higher fire frequencies are observed between 2200 to 2800 cal BP, ̃5500 and ̃6000 cal BP, ̃7500 to 8200 cal BP, and 9000 to 10,000 cal BP. These intervals also appear to be times of above-average aggradation of the fan. We conclude that fire frequency is related to large-scale climatic events on a millennial time scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-450
Number of pages16
JournalRadiocarbon
Volume48
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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