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An AMS (super 14) C pollen-dated sediment and pollen sequence from the late Holocene, southern coastal Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.

Pamela I Chester, Christine A Prior


Hawke's Bay is a region of New Zealand where earliest settlement of indigenous people may have occurred. A sedimentological and palynological study of lake sediments from a small catchment was undertaken to reconstruct erosion, vegetation, and fire histories to determine human environmental impact, and thus add to knowledge of the timing of initial settlement of New Zealand. Precise dating was an essential facet of the research because of the short time span of human occupation in New Zealand. A chronology is proposed based on accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating of palynomorph concentrates. Known-age tephras were used as a check on the validity of the (super 14) C ages obtained using this technique, which is being developed at Rafter Radiocarbon Laboratory. Two episodes of sustained erosion occurred between about 1500 and 1050 BC with a period of approximately 50 yr at about 1300 BC when no erosion occurred. Five episodes of erosion of very short duration occurred at about 625 BC, 450 BC, 100 BC, AD 950, and AD 1400. Erosion probably resulted from landslides induced by earthquakes or severe storms, with the exception of the last event which coincides with local burning and is probably a consequence of this. A conifer/broadleaved forest surrounded the lake until soon after AD 1075-1300, when a dramatic decline in pollen of forest plants and an increase in charcoal occurred. Forest was replaced by fire-induced scrub, interpreted as a result of anthropogenic burning by prehistoric Polynesians. A further decline in woody vegetation occurred when European-introduced plants appear in the pollen record and extensive pasture was established.


absolute age;archaeology ;Australasia ;C 13 C 12;C 14;carbon ;Cenozoic ;charcoal ;chronostratigraphy ;cores ;dates ;Hawke' s Bay New Zealand;Holocene ;human activity;igneous rocks;isotope ratios;isotopes ;lacustrine environment;lake sediments;lithostratigraphy ;microfossils ;miospores ;New Zealand;North Island;paleoecology ;paleoenvironment ;palynomorphs ;Plantae ;pollen ;pollen diagrams;pyroclastics ;Quaternary ;radioactive isotopes;sediments ;stable isotopes;upper Holocene;vegetation ;volcanic ash;volcanic rocks

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