The potential for an independent source of Younger Dryas tree-ring radiocarbon data from the Lake Ontario region, North America, and its palaeoenvironmental context
Griggs, C., Southon, J., Kromer, B., Hogg, A. G., Grote, T., Lorentzen, B., … Peteet, D. (2015). The potential for an independent source of Younger Dryas tree-ring radiocarbon data from the Lake Ontario region, North America, and its palaeoenvironmental context. Presented at the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting, 18-22 December 2015, San Francisco, CA.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9908
Tree rings are the gold standard for the calibration of radiocarbon dates into calendar years with limited error due to their annual record of radiocarbon content in the atmosphere. Currently, the tree-ring 14C data used in the International Radiocarbon Calibration curve (IntCal13) are from multiple sources back to ~ 10 ka cal BP for the northern hemisphere. However, the source for tree-ring calibration data prior to ~10 ka cal BP, including the Younger Dryas (YD) and most of the Early Holocene (EH) chronozones, is limited to central Europe. Substantial quantities of logs found in the lowlands of Lake Ontario in North America, dating from 12.1 to 11.2 ka cal BP, have great potential for providing unique YD-EH tree-ring 14C data from a new, previously unrepresented, geographic location and for adding a new perspective to ongoing debates such as the timing of the YD/EH transition in continental North America. Preliminary fieldwork yielded over 43 logs, predominantly spruce (Picea spp.), found buried in alluvial strata over 0.2 hectares of the floodplain at Bell Creek near Fulton, NY. Dendrochronological analysis of 32 spruce logs from this collection has produced several chronologies, one 183 years in length and a second of 147 years with a possible crossdate yielding a chronology of 260 years. Ongoing survey of the site suggests that there is high preservation potential in the same stratigraphic units in an additional ~2 hectares of floodplain, and sample collection with subsequent analysis will increase the chronology’s sample depth, extend its length, and potentially provide a robust, independent Younger Dryas – Early Holocene 14C record. Initial assessments of climatic, hydrological, environmental, and isostatic variations and events over time from the tree rings and their stable isotopes, as well as pollen, macrofossil, and sediment analyses and isostatic modeling indicate substantial changes in the Bell Creek Valley and surrounding lowlands both during the YD and into the mid-Holocene. These changes include significant alterations in the rate, volume, and direction of stream flow, and transition from a boreal riparian environment on a low-order river to a wetlands, then back to a riparian environment with much less streamflow and occasional flooding, similar to the Bell Creek Valley today.