Fire History Reconstructed from Charcoal Abundance in a Peat Bog from Allegan Country, Southwest Michigan

Student Author(s)

Dean Hazle, Hope CollegeFollow

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Edward Hansen, Hope College
Professor Suzanne DeVries-Zimmerman, Hope College

Document Type


Publication Date



Detailed analysis of paleoenvironmental proxies have been completed for a sediment core taken in Allegan County, Michigan. Data interpretation from organic-bulk density, sand concentrations, plant macrofossils, siliceous microfossils and charcoal abundances develop an understanding of local environmental and ecological change for ~ 13,500 YBP. Charcoal abundances are usually interpreted as an indication of frequency and intensity of wildfires. In the upper section of core, changes in siliceous microfossil patterns indicate a period of time when the center of the bog was above water level. While the center of the bog is emergent, there is a rough correlation between charcoal abundances and sand concentrations. The correlation suggests that both windblown sand into the bog and fires are influenced by some of the same environmental factors: possibly aridity. The lower section of core precedes emergence, and siliceous microfossil patterns indicate bog was completely below water level. During this time peaks in the charcoal record are spaced closer together and sand concentrations are generally higher. Before emergence material may have been washed into the bog by water as well as blown in by wind. Additional pathways for material into the bog may partially account for difference in sand and charcoal patterns.

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