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Peatland development at the arctic tree line (Québec, Canada) influenced by flooding and permafrost

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Najat Bhiry
Affiliation:
Centre d’études nordiques and Département de géographie, Université Laval, Québec City (Qc), Canada G1K 7P4
Serge Payette
Affiliation:
NSERC Northern Research Chair, Centre d’études nordiques, Université Laval, Québec City (Qc), Canada G1K 7P4
Élisabeth C. Robert
Affiliation:
Centre d’études nordiques, Université Laval, Québec City (Qc), Canada G1K 7P4
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

In this study, we documented the Holocene history of a peat plateau at the arctic tree line in northern Québec using stratigraphic and macrofossil analyses to highlight the effects of geomorphic setting in peatland development. Paludification of the site began about 6800 cal yr BP. From 6390 to 4120 cal yr BP, the peatland experienced a series of flooding events. The location of the peatland in a depression bounded by two small lakes likely explains its sensitivity to runoff. The proximity of a large hill bordering the peatland to the south possibly favored the inflow of mineral-laden water. The onset of permafrost aggradation in several parts of the peatland occurred after 3670 cal yr BP. Uplifting of the peatland surface caused by permafrost stopped the flooding. According to radiocarbon dating of the uppermost peat layers, permafrost distribution progressed from the east to the west of the peatland, indicating differential timing for the initiation of permafrost throughout the peatland. Most of the peatland was affected by permafrost growth during the Little Ice Age. Picea mariana macroremains at 6450 cal yr BP indicate that the species was present during the early stages of peatland development, which occurred soon after the sea regression.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
University of Washington

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