Faded landscape: unravelling peat initiation and lateral expansion at one of northwest Europe's largest bog remnants

Cindy Quik*, Ype Van der velde, Jasper H.J. Candel, Luc Steinbuch, Roy van Beek, Jakob Wallinga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


On the mainland of northwest Europe generally only remnants of former peat landscapes subsist. Due to the poor preservation of these landscapes, alternative approaches to reconstruct peat initiation and lateral expansion are needed compared to regions with intact peat cover. Here we aim (1) to find explanatory variables within a digital soil mapping approach that allow us to reconstruct the pattern of peat initiation and lateral expansion within (and potentially beyond) peat remnants, and (2) to reconstruct peat initiation ages and lateral expansion for one of the largest bog remnants of the northwest European mainland, Fochteloërveen. Basal radiocarbon dates were obtained from the peat remnant, which formed the basis for subsequent analyses. We investigated the relationship between peat initiation age and three potential covariates: (1) total thickness of organic deposits, (2) elevation of the Pleistocene mineral surface that underlies the organic deposits, and (3) a constructed variable representing groundwater-fed wetness based on elevation of the mineral surface and current hydraulic head. Significant relationships were found with covariates (1) and (3), which were then used for subsequent modelling. Our results indicate simultaneous peat initiation at several loci in Fochteloërveen during the Early Holocene and continuous lateral expansion until 900 cal BP. Lateral expansion accelerated between 5500–3500 cal BP. Our approach is spatially explicit (i.e. results in a map of peat initiation ages), and it allows for a quantitative evaluation of the prediction using the standard deviation and comparison of predictions with validation points. The applied method based on covariate (1) is only useful where remnant peat survived, whereas covariate (3) may ultimately be applied to reconstruct peat initiation ages and lateral peatland expansion beyond the limits of peat remnants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-718
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2023


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