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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 (a1) and Marten Geertsema (a2)

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.

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      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
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      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
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      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
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