Effects of climatic change and bog development on Holocene tufa formation in the Lorze Valley (central Switzerland)

A massive tufa complex in the lower Lorze Valley ( 550 m a.s.l., north-central Switzerland) formed between 9000 and 5000 cal. yr BP. In the plain 4 km southeast of the complex lies Neugrundmoor ( 830 m a.s.l.), a mire in the hydrologic recharge area of the springs responsible for the tufa formation. Here we address an earlier, untested hypothesis that the transition of Neugrundmoor from fen to raised bog caused the end of the tufa formation, by means of pollen and testate amoebae analyses on a peat section. The chronology of the section is based on ten AMS C-14-dates of terrestrial plant macrofossils. Our results suggest that until 7100 cal. yr BP the plain had shallow ponds, which gradually developed into fens. Starting 5350 cal. yr BP, large raised bogs developed in the fens in a few centuries. This agrees with the hypothesis that the end of tufa formation coincided with the transition from fen to raised bog. It also coincided with the end of the mid-Holocene temperature optimum, when climate became cooler and wetter. We suggest that the main factor causing the end of tufa formation at 5500-5000 cal. yr BP was declining air temperatures, which on the one hand led to diminished calcium precipitation, on the other to enhanced bog formation. Peat has a low hydraulic conductivity, so we suggest that less water became available for tufa formation because of increased thickness of peat layers, exacerbating the direct effect of cooling on calcium precipitation. Noticeable human influence in the surroundings did presumably not start before c. 3500 cal. yr BP and was then very weak, so this was not responsible for the end of the tufa formation. Extrapolation of our results suggests that climatic cooling alone is sufficient to explain the widespread termination of tufa formation after the mid Holocene.

Published in:
Holocene, 20, 325-336

 Record created 2011-12-16, last modified 2018-01-28

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