Regional Environmental Change

Holocene fire history from the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, New South Wales, Australia: the climate, humans and fire nexus

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Courtesy of Regional Environmental Change

Abstract 
This study presents a reconstruction of the fire activity of the last ~14,200 cal. years BP (before AD 1950) from Gooches Crater Right, located on the Newnes Plateau, approximately 150 km to the west of Sydney (~33°27′S, 150°16′E) within the Blue Mountains National Park. Charcoal analysis and palynology were undertaken with the aim of untangling any inter-relationship between climate, humans and fire. A chronology of the site was provided by radiocarbon dating. The dominant control on fire in this environment during the Holocene appears to be climate. Periods of climate change, identified in previous studies, are associated with higher levels of fire activity. Fire was less ubiquitous between ~9,000 and 6,000 years BP, a period normally described as having a higher effective moisture in south-eastern Australia. The mid-Holocene fluctuations in charcoal may reflect anthropogenic fire, climate forcing or alternatively human responses to any climate change. Coeval changes in palaeoclimatic sequences elsewhere and palynology at the site support a climatic explanation or that Aboriginal people used fire within a climatic framework.

Keywords: Fire history - Charcoal - Holocene - Blue Mountains - Australia

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