Size parameters, size-class distribution and area-number relationship of microscopic charcoal: Relevance for fire reconstruction

Willy Tinner, Feng Sheng Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Charcoal analysis was conducted on sediment cores from three lakes to assess the relationship between the area and number of charcoal particles. Three charcoal-size parameters (maximum breadth, maximum length and area) were measured on sediment samples representing various vegetation types, including shrub tundra, boreal forest and temperate forest. These parameters and charcoal size-class distributions do not differ statistically between two sites where the same preparation technique (glycerine pollen slides) was used, but they differ for the same core when different techniques were applied. Results suggest that differences in charcoal size and size-class distribution are mainly caused by different preparation techniques and are not related to vegetation-type variation. At all three sites, the area and number concentrations of charcoal particles are highly correlated in standard pollen slides; 82-83% of the variability of the charcoal-area concentration can be explained by the particle-number concentration. Comparisons between predicted and measured area concentrations show that regression equations linking charcoal number and area concentrations can be used across sites as long as the same pollen-preparation technique is used. Thus it is concluded that it is unnecessary to measure charcoal areas in standard pollen slides - a time-consuming and tedious process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-505
Number of pages7
JournalHolocene
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2003

Keywords

  • Charcoal analysis
  • Fire history
  • Microscopic charcoal
  • Pollen slides
  • Thin sections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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