Charcoal in dated lake sediments as a proxy for fire history in Jasper National Park, Canada
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
Author(s): Jacqueline K. Huvane
Editor(s): Susan G. Conrad
Publication Year: 2000

Cataloging Information

  • Alberta
  • boreal forests
  • Canada
  • charcoal
  • charcoal data
  • dendrochronological dating
  • dendrochronology
  • disturbance
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • fire scar analysis
  • fire size
  • fire suppression
  • Jasper National Park
  • national parks
  • paleoecology
  • sedimentation
  • suppression
  • International
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 17000
Tall Timbers Record Number: 20988
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: A13.88:NC-209
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Parks Canada is developing a fire management plan for Jasper National Park (JNP) to restore the natural fire regime that occurred prior to forest fire Suppression in the 2Oth century. While fire history for both the 19th and 20th centuries is well documented, less is known about the earlier fire history of JNP. This project utilizes paleoecological methods to analyze forest disturbance regimes over the past ca. 300 years in the Athabasca River valley of JNP. Freeze cores (ca. 50 cm in length) were obtained from Mina Lake in 1995 and 1996. The recent sediments were dated by 210 pb analyses, and the examination of charcoal particles was used to infer the fire history of the Park. I tested the validity of these methods by focusing on recent lake sediments (ca. the past 200 years) and comparing the charcoal inferred fire history to the known fire history derived from tree ring and fire scar data. The results from the Mina Lake cores indicate that macroscopic charcoal particle analyses can detect the major documented fires in the Park. In particular, the last major fire year in JNP occurred in 1889, and is represented by a broad peak in the macroscopic charcoal record. After 1889, there was little fire in JNP, and this is reflected by low macroscopic charcoal concentrations in the most recent sediments. Thus, charcoal particles can effectively serve as a proxy for fire history in JNP.

Online Link(s):
Huvane, Jacqueline K. 2000. Charcoal in dated lake sediments as a proxy for fire history in Jasper National Park, Canada. Pages 147-156. In: Conard, Susan G. (editor). Disturbance in boreal forest ecosystems: human impacts and natural processes. Proceedings of the International Boreal Forest Research Association 1997 annual meeting; 1997 August 4-7; Duluth, Minnesota. General Technical Report NC-GTR-209. St. Paul, MN: USDA Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station.