Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 289–294 | Cite as

Methodological and practical aspects of the presentation and interpretation of microscopic charcoal data from lake sediments

  • Mihkel Kangur


Analysis of microscopic charcoal particles is a useful part of palaeoecological research and is mostly used in conjunction with pollen analysis. However, there is considerable variation in the methodology of charcoal analyses. This paper considers various methods for the analysis of microscopic charcoal and the presentation of charcoal data in the context of a study of the upper sediments of two lakes Estonia. The results are evaluated by comparing both the pollen and charcoal data with documentary evidence of forest fires over the past 60 years. Indications of fires both varying in extent and at different distances from the lakes are evaluated in both the pollen and charcoal diagrams. The results suggest that the total area curve for charcoal particles per unit mass of sediment dry matter (cm2 g−1) provides the best indicator of forest fires. Fires in the study area are reflected differently in the charcoal and pollen curves. It is suggested that the charcoal data have the potential to indicate disturbance at a greater distance from the coring site than indicated by the pollen data.

Key words: Charcoal – Pollen – Forest fire – Lake sediments – Estonia 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mihkel Kangur
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Ecology at Tallinn Pedagogical University, Kevade 2, Tallinn, 10137 Estonia, e-mail:

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