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Palynologic and Geomorphic Evidence for Environmental Change During the Pleistocene-Holocene Transition at Point Reyes Peninsula, Central Coastal California

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Steven Rypins
Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720
Steven L. Reneau
Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720
Roger Byrne
Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720
David R. Montgomery
Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720


Three sites on the Point Reyes Peninsula, California, provide evidence of major environmental change during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. A 12,300-yr-long pollen record from Coast Trail Pond reveals a change from closed canopy Pseudotsuga-Abies forest to coastal scrub and grassland about 10,000 yr B.P. The same change is also evident in pollen records from two sea cliff exposures that contain a series of buried soils interstratified with fluvial and debris-flow deposits. Eight radiocarbon dates from these exposures indicate that aggradation at both sites began ca. 12,000 yr B.P. and that the change from forest to scrub and grassland occurred between 10,300 and 9400 yr B.P. High percentages of alder pollen and bracken fern spores reflect repeated geomorphic disturbance at ca. 10,400 yr B.P. The occurrence of major aggradation accompanied by recurrent debris flows between ca. 12,000 and 10,000 yr B.P. suggests that this was a period of more frequent high-intensity storms.

Research Article
University of Washington

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