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Two Tephra Layers Bracketing Late Holocene Paleoecological Changes in Northern Germany

  • Christel van den Bogaard (a1), Walter Dörfler (a2), Rainer Glos (a2), Marie-Josée Nadeau (a3), Pieter M. Grootes (a3) and Helmut Erlenkeuser (a3)...


Paleoecological records from two Holocene peat bogs in northern Germany are linked by two microscopic volcanic ash layers, correlated by petrology and geochemistry to explosive volcanism on Iceland. The younger “Microlite tephra” cannot be correlated to any known eruption, while the older tephra layer is identified as a deposit of the Hekla 3 eruption. The tephra layers are dated by an age–depth regression of accelerator mass spectrometry 14C ages that have been calibrated and combined in probability distributions. This procedure gives an age of 730–664 cal yr B.C. for the “Microlite tephra” event and 1087–1006 cal yr B.C. for the Hekla 3 event. Accordingly, the tephra layers were deposited during the late Bronze Age. At this time, human settlement slowly increased pressure on the environment, as indicated by changes in woodland pollen composition at the two bogs. The tephra-marker horizons further show that the palynologically defined transition from the Subboreal to the Subatlantic Period is synchronous in the investigated area. However, the macroscopic visible marker in peat, the change from fibrous to sapric peat, the “Schwarztorf-Weißtorf-Kontakt,” is asynchronous. Bog vegetation did not immediately react in unison to a climatic change at this pollen zone boundary; instead, the timing of vegetation change depended on the location within the bog.



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