Holocene pollen and sediment record from the tangle lakes area, central Alaska





Pollen and sediments have been analyzed from a 5.5 meter‐length core of lacustrine sediments from Tangle Lakes, in the Gulkana Upland south of the Alaska Range (63 ° 01 ‘ 46”; N. latitude, 146° 03 ‘ 48 “ W. longitude). Radiocarbon ages indicate that the core spans the last 4700 years. The core sediments are sandy silt and silty clay; the core shows distinct rhythmic laminations in the lower 398 cm. The laminae appear to be normally graded; peat fibers and macerated plant debris are more abundant near the tops of the laminae. Six volcanic‐ash layers are present in the upper 110 cm of the core.

Present‐day vegetation of the Tangle Lakes area is mesic shrub tundra and open spruce woodland, with scattered patches of shrub willow (Salix), balsam poplar (P. balsamifera), spruce (Picea), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), and alder (Alnus). Pollen analysis of 27 core samples suggests that this vegetation type has persisted throughout the past 4700 years, except for an apparently substantial increase in Picea beginning about 3500 years B.P. Percentages of Picea pollen are very low (generally 1–3 percent) in the lower 2 meters of core (ca. 4700 to 3500 years B.P.), but rise to 13–18 percent in the upper 3.4 meters (ca. 3500 years B.P. to present). Previously reported data from this area indicate that Picea trees initially arrived in the Tangle Lakes area about 9100 years B.P., at least 2.5 to 3 thousand years after deglaciation of the region. The present investigation suggests that Picea trees became locally scarce or died out sometime after about 9000 years B.P. but before 4700 years B.P., then reinvaded the area about 3500 years B.P. If this extrapolated age for the Picea reinvasion is accurate it suggests that local expansion of the Picea population coincides with the onset of a Neoglacial interval of cooler, moister climate. This is an unexpected result, because intervals of cooler climate generally coincide with lowering of the altitudinal limit of trees. In this case, improved moisture conditions may have promoted spruce growth and reproduction in spite of somewhat cooler temperatures.

Previous pollen records from Alaska suggest that Artemisia pollen contributed little to the pollen rain of most taiga and tundra sites during Holocene time. The pollen record from Tangle Lakes, however shows rather high percentages (7–13 percent) of Artemisia deposited during the approximate time interval 4700 to 3500 years B.P. Local habitats that have well‐drained soils derived from glacial deposits support patches of Artemisia telesii and other Artemisia species. These local habitats may account for the source of Artemisiapollen deposited in the Tangle Lakes area during Holocene time.

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Journal Article
Holocene pollen and sediment record from the tangle lakes area, central Alaska
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Taylor & Francis
14 p.
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United States
Other Geospatial:
Gulkana Upland, Tangle Lakes