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Climatic and human controls on Holocene floodplain vegetation changes in eastern Pennsylvania based on the isotopic composition of soil organic matter

  • Gary E. Stinchcomb (a1), Timothy C. Messner (a2), Forrest C. Williamson (a3), Steven G. Driese (a1) and Lee C. Nordt (a1)...


A paleoenvironmental time-series spanning the Holocene was constructed using 29 radiocarbon ages and 149 standardized δ13Csom values from alluvial terrace profiles along the middle Delaware River valley. There is good agreement between increasing δ13Csom and Panicoideae phytolith concentrations, suggesting that variations in C4 biomass are a major contributor to changes in the soil δ13C. A measurement error deconvolution curve over time reveals two isotope stages (II–I), with nine sub-stages exhibiting variations in average δ13Csom (average %C4). Stage II, ~ 10.7–4.3 ka, shows above-average δ13Csom (increase %C4) values with evidence of an early Holocene warming and dry interval (sub-stage IIb, 9.8–8.3 ka) that coincides with rapid warming and cool-dry abrupt climate-change events. Sub-stage IId, 7.0–4.3 ka, is an above average δ13Csom (increase %C4) interval associated with the mid-Holocene warm-dry hypsithermal. The Stage II–I shift at 4.3 ka documents a transition toward below average δ13Csom (decrease %C4) values and coincides with decreasing insolation and hydroclimatic change. Sub-stages Ib and Id (above average %C4) coincide with the first documented occurrence of maize in the northeastern USA and a substantial increase in human population during the Late Woodland. These associations suggest that people influenced δ13Csom during the late Holocene.


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Climatic and human controls on Holocene floodplain vegetation changes in eastern Pennsylvania based on the isotopic composition of soil organic matter

  • Gary E. Stinchcomb (a1), Timothy C. Messner (a2), Forrest C. Williamson (a3), Steven G. Driese (a1) and Lee C. Nordt (a1)...


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