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A multiproxy environmental investigation of Holocene wood from a submerged conifer forest in Lake Huron, USA

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

R. Douglas Hunter*
Biological Sciences, Oakland University, Rochester, MI 48309-4476, USA
Irina P. Panyushkina
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Steven W. Leavitt
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Alex C. Wiedenhoeft
Center for Wood Anatomy Research, USDA Forest Products Laboratory, One Gifford Pinchot Drive, Madison, WI 53726-2398, USA
John Zawiskie
Department of Geology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202 and Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303, USA
Corresponding author. Fax: +1 248 370 4225. E-mail (R.D. Hunter).


Remains of a Holocene drowned forest in southern Lake Huron discovered in 12.5 m of water (164 m above sea level), 4.5 km east of Lexington, Michigan USA (Sanilac site), provided wood to investigate environment and lake history using several proxies. Macrofossil evidence indicates a forest comprised primarily of conifers equivalent to the modern “rich conifer swamp” community, despite generally low regional abundance of these species in pollen records. Ages range from 7095 ± 50 to 6420 ± 70 14C yr BP, but the clustering of stump dates and the development of 2 floating tree-ring chronologies suggest a briefer forest interval of no more than c. 400 years. Dendrochronological analysis indicates an environment with high inter-annual climate variability. Stable-carbon isotope composition falls within the range of modern trees from this region, but the stable-oxygen composition is consistent with warmer conditions than today. Both our tree-ring and isotope data provide support for a warmer environment in this region, consistent with a mid-Holocene thermal maximum. This drowned forest also provides a dated elevation in the Nipissing transgression at about 6420 14C yr BP (7350 cal yr BP) in the southern Lake Huron basin, a few hundred years before reopening of the St. Clair River drainage.

Research Article
University of Washington

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