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Holocene vegetation, environment and tephra recorded from Lake Pupuke, Auckland

by admin last modified 2005-10-01 03:39 AM

Horrocks M, Augustinus P, Deng Y, Shane PA, Andersson S. 2005. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 48, 85-94.


Lake Pupuke provides a near-complete, high-resolution environmental record of the Holocene from northern New Zealand. Tephra beds constrain the timing of a range of proxy indicators of environmental change, and demonstrate errors in a radiocarbon chronology. Agathis australis forest progressively increases from c. 7000 yr BP and, in conjunction with indicators of reduced biomass productivity, support a model of long-term climate change to drier conditions over the Holocene. However, except for Agathis, conifer-hardwood forest dominated mainly by Dacrydium cupressinum shows little change throughout the pre-human Holocene, suggesting environmental stability.

Dramatic vegetation change occurred only within the last millenium as a result of large-scale Polynesian deforestation by fire. This happened a short time before the local eruption of c. 638 cal. yr BP Rangitoto Tephra. The identification of two eruptions of tephra from Rangitoto volcano has implications for future hazard planning in the Auckland region, because the volcanoes were previously considered single event centres. Changes in atmospheric circulation since the Late Glacial, possibly causing lower frequency of distal ashfall in Auckland during the Holocene complicates the use of long-term records in hazard frequency assessment.


Palynology, tephrochronology, geochemistry, 14C dating, Holocene, Lake Pupuke, New Zealand.

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