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Late-Holocene inland dune activity in the UK: a case study from Breckland, East Anglia

By M.D. Bateman and S.P. Godby


Inland dunefields found in Breckland, East Anglia, UK, have previously been correlated with the widespread late-Devensian coversands of the region and a seventeenth-century 'sandflood' which is known to have inundated the village of Santon Downham. A programme of optically stimulated luminescence and radiocarbon dating undertaken on the dunes at Wangford Warren and Santon Downham reveals that episodic aeolian activity has taken place during the last 7000 years. Five sand depositional phases on Breckland dunes are identified: c.6500, c.1600 1100, c.500, c.400 335 and c.200 30 years before present. Between c.2120 and 1840 years ago and within the period 1100 300 years ago quiescent periods allowed the development of fen peat and soils. Local controlling factors on aeolian activity in Breckland appear to be related to anthropogenic activities and livestock (sheep and rabbits) reducing vegetation cover, and decreased precipitation and sea levels which led to lowering of water tables. Breckland aeolian activity, when compared to the national and subcontinental Holocene aeolian activity record, shows a high level of concordance. The underlying forcing factor for late-Holocene dune activity in the UK and elsewhere in Europe appears to be climatic instability in the North Atlantic, associated with both the 'Little Ice Age' and previous similar events which led to increased storminess, climatic variability and lower temperatures

Year: 2004
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:1070

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