Pollen geochronology from the Atlantic coast of the united states during the last 500 years

Margaret A. Christie, Christopher E. Bernhardt, Andrew C. Parnell, Timothy A. Shaw, Nicole S. Khan, D. Reide Corbett, Ane García-Artola, Jennifer Clear, Jennifer S. Walker, Jeffrey P. Donnelly, Tobias R. Hasse, Benjamin P. Horton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Building robust age-depth models to understand climatic and geologic histories from coastal sedimentary archives often requires composite chronologies consisting of multi-proxy age markers. Pollen chronohorizons derived from a known change in vegetation are important for age-depth models, especially those with other sparse or imprecise age markers. However, the accuracy of pollen chronohorizons compared to other age markers and the impact of pollen chronohorizons on the precision of age-depth models, particularly in salt marsh environments, is poorly understood. Here, we combine new and published pollen data from eight coastal wetlands (salt marshes and mangroves) along the Atlantic Coast of the United States (U.S.) from Florida to Connecticut to define the age and uncertainty of 17 pollen chronohorizons. We found that 13 out of 17 pollen chronohorizons were consistent when compared to other age markers (radiocarbon, radionuclide 137Cs and pollution markers). Inconsistencies were likely related to the hyperlocality of pollen chronohorizons, mixing of salt marsh sediment, reworking of pollen from nearby tidal flats, misidentification of pollen signals, and inaccuracies in or misinterpretation of other age markers. Additionally, in a total of 24 models, including one or more pollen chronohorizons, increased precision (up to 41 years) or no change was found in 18 models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number362
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


  • Age-depth models
  • Coastal wetlands
  • Geochronology
  • Holocene
  • Pollen


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