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Quaternary Vegetation History of the Mississippi Embayment1,2

  • Paul A. Delcourt (a1) (a2), Hazel R. Delcourt (a3) (a4), Ronald C. Brister (a5) and Laurence E. Lackey (a6)

Nonconnah Creek, located in the loess-mantled Blufflands along the eastern wall of the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley in Tennessee displays a sedimentary sequence representing the Altonian Substage through the Woodfordian Substage of the Wisconsinan Stage. The site has a biostratigraphic record for the Altonian and Farmdalian Substages that documents warm-temperate upland oak-pine forest, prairie, and bottomland forest. At 23,000 yr B.P., white spruce and larch migrated into the Nonconnah Creek watershed and along braided-stream surfaces in the Mississippi Valley as far as southeastern Louisiana. The pollen and plant-macrofossil record from Nonconnah Creek provides the first documentation of a full-glacial locality in eastern North America for beech, yellow poplar, oak, history, black walnut, and other mesic deciduous forest taxa. During the full and late glacial, the Mississippi Valley was a barrier to the migration of pine species, while the adjacent Blufflands provided a refuge for mesic deciduous forest taxa. Regional climatic amelioration, beginning about 16,500 yr B.P., is reflected by increases in pollen percentages of cooltemperate deciduous trees at Nonconnah Creek. The demise of spruce and jack pine occurred 12,500 yr B.P. between 34° and 37° N in eastern North America in response to postglacial warming.

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Contribution No. 11, Program for Quaternary Studies of the Southeastern United States, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn. 37916.

Contribution No. 196, Limnological Research Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn. 55455.

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Quaternary Research
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