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Age and palaeoenvironmental significance of an inter-tidal peat bed at Ballywoolen, Bann estuary, Co. Londonderry

Peter Wilson, Gill Plunkett


A recently exposed inter-tidal peat bed at Ballywoolen, Bann estuary, Co. Londonderry, has yielded new information about mid-Holocene coastal environmental change in the north-east of Ireland. Pollen analytical data and wood detritus demonstrate that peat accumulation occurred in a terrestrial environment that was free from marine influence. Radiocarbon dates suggest that the peat accumulated rapidly during a period of low relative sea level subsequent to the maximum of Holocene relative sea-level rise along the north coast of Northern Ireland. The absence of marine/brackish indicator taxa at the site suggests that the tidal range was somewhat less than that at present and/or that the channel of the river was located some distance east of its present alignment. The dates indicate that the low stand lasted for at least ~0.2 ka and possibly for ~1.1 ka. Stable, woodland-dominated landscapes are indicated at both this site and neighbouring ones around ~6.4-5.3 cal ka BP. There is no evidence for large-scale aeolian sand movement or human impact on the landscape during the period of peat accumulation.

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