Ancient fire traces surrounded by sand dunes | National Geographic

the University of Queensland You mentioned a discovery that could help unravel the history of wildfires and wildfires in the past. Research led by Dr Nicholas Paton revealed that tracks buried deep in the dunes reveal the time and intensity of past fires.

“When looking for past fires, lake sediments are usually examined, but this means that fires in dry climate regions are often overlooked,” said the researcher. He added that they have proven during their work that sand dunes are also able to preserve the memory of fires in an area, and thus contribute to understanding the climate and the environmental past.

Researchers in Queensland A Colola sand area She examined sand dunes that could date back 12,000 years. In this area, sand deposited on the beach in the form of dunes has been carried inland by wind, and is found in a relatively narrow strip, mostly covered by vegetation (no longer migrating).

Infographic about the tracks of wildfires approaching the dunes

Source: Dr. Nicholas Paton

“When we dug exploratory trenches at the base of the sand dunes, we found a lot of coal – much more than we expected. We thought we could use these deposits to explore past bushfires in the area,” added Dr Patton. The coal was embedded in the sand and remained as small grains, which was also suitable for dating.

Data extracted from dunes younger than 500-2000 years old were then compared to fire traces that had been reconstructed on the basis of nearby lake sediments, and the two datasets were a perfect match. In the case of the 5,000- to 10,000-year-old dunes, the effects of individual fires were somewhat fuzzy, but this gave the researchers information about the times when wildfires were most common.

According to the researchers, there are countless places in the world where past fires could be studied under similar conditions, such as California. Of course, sand dunes reveal not only natural fires, but also human activities, such as burning due to agriculture. The researchers want to extend their investigations to those areas of Australia where, due to human presence for thousands of years, it will be especially important to search for past fires.

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