A composite pollen-based stratotype for inter-regional evaluation of climatic events in New Zealand over the past 30,000 years (NZ-INTIMATE project)

David J.A. Barrell, Peter C. Almond, Marcus J. Vandergoes, David J. Lowe, Rewi M. Newnham, Maarten Blaauw

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76 Citations (Scopus)


Our review of paleoclimate information for New Zealand pertaining to the past 30,000 years has identified a general sequence of climatic events, spanning the onset of cold conditions marking the final phase of the Last Glaciation, through to the emergence to full interglacial conditions in the early Holocene. In order to facilitate more detailed assessments of climate variability and any leads or lags in the timing of climate changes across the region, a composite stratotype is proposed for New Zealand. The stratotype is based on terrestrial stratigraphic records and is intended to provide a standard reference for the intercomparison and evaluation of climate proxy records. We nominate a specific stratigraphic type record for each climatic event, using either natural exposure or drill core stratigraphic sections. Type records were selected on thebasis of having very good numerical age control and a clear proxy record. In all cases the main proxy of the type record is subfossil pollen. The type record for the period from ca 30 to ca 18 calendar kiloyears BP (cal. ka BP) is designated in lake-bed sediments from a small morainic kettle lake (Galway tarn) in western South Island. The Galway tarn type record spans a period of full glacial conditions (Last Glacial Coldest Period, LGCP) within the Otira Glaciation, and includes three cold stadials separated by two cool interstadials. The type record for the emergence from glacial conditions following the termination of the Last Glaciation (post-Termination amelioration) is in a core of lake sediments from a maar (Pukaki volcanic crater) in Auckland, northern North Island, and spans from ca 18 to 15.64±0.41 cal. ka BP. The type record for the Lateglacial period is an exposure of interbedded peat and mud at montane Kaipo bog, eastern North Island. In this high-resolution type record, an initial mild period was succeeded at 13.74±0.13 cal. ka BP by a cooler period, which after 12.55±0.14 cal. ka BP gave way to a progressive ascent to full interglacial conditions that were achieved by 11.88±0.18 cal. ka BP. Although a type section is not formally designated for the Holocene Interglacial (11.88±0.18 cal. ka BP to the present day), the sedimentary record of Lake Maratoto on the Waikato lowlands, northwestern North Island, is identified as a prospective type section pending the integration and updating of existing stratigraphic and proxy datasets, and age models. The type records are interconnected by one or more dated tephra layers, the ages of which are derived from Bayesian depositional modelling and OxCal-based calibrations using the IntCal09 dataset. Along with the type sections and the Lake Maratoto record, important, well-dated terrestrial reference records are provided for each climate event. Climate proxies from these reference records include pollen flora, stable isotopes from speleothems, beetle and chironomid fauna, and glacier moraines. The regional composite stratotype provides a benchmark against which to compare other records and proxies. Based on the composite stratotype, we provide an updated climate event stratigraphic classification for the New Zealand region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-20
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Early online date30 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2013


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