Advantages and limits of radiocarbon dating applied to peat inception during the Late Glacial and the Holocene: the example of mires in the eastern Massif Central (France)


International audienceThe origins of mires and the initiation of peat inception during the last 12 000 years has been widely interpreted in terms of macroclimatic change or land-use changes associated with human activities. One objective of our palaeoenvironnemental studies in the eastern Massif Central in France was to accurately date basal peat layers at a great number of sites. These radiocarbon dates of peat inception must then be confronted with palaeocological and archaeological data. Although radiocarbon dating is currently used to date peat initiation, various difficulties can be encountered when attempting to identify and sample the oldest basal layers in amire, and these problems are rarely addressed. This paper proposes amethodology based on detailed investigation by means of stratigraphical, sedimentological and micromorphological analyses. Five mires were studied: 3 bogs, and 2 fens. As a main result we illustrated the great importance of micromorphological analysis. We also show that many radiocarbon dates are required to obtain accurate age estimations of the chronology of peat inception, precise enough to be confronted with other palaeoenvironmental data

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oai:HAL:hal-00371299v1Last time updated on 11/11/2016

This paper was published in HAL-ENS-LYON.

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