Reconstructing palaeoenvironments of the White Peak region of Derbyshire, northern England

Kitcher, Simon John

May 2014

Thesis or dissertation

© 2014 Simon John Kitcher. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Sub-fossil pollen from Holocene tufa pool sediments is used to investigate middle – late Holocene environmental conditions in the White Peak region of the Derbyshire Peak District in northern England. The overall aim is to use pollen analysis to resolve the relative influence of climate and anthropogenic landscape disturbance on the cessation of tufa production at Lathkill Dale and Monsal Dale in the White Peak region of the Peak District using past vegetation cover as a proxy.

Modern White Peak pollen – vegetation relationships are examined to aid semi-quantitative interpretation of sub-fossil pollen assemblages. Moss-polsters and vegetation surveys incorporating novel methodologies are used to produce new Relative Pollen Productivity Estimates (RPPE) for 6 tree taxa, and new association indices for 16 herb taxa. RPPE’s of Alnus, Fraxinus and Pinus were similar to those produced at other European sites; Betula values displaying similarity with other UK sites only. RPPE’s for Fagus and Corylus were significantly lower than at other European sites.

Pollen taphonomy in woodland floor mosses in Derbyshire and East Yorkshire is investigated. Significant variations in tree pollen percentages within 1 metre quadrats of continuous moss cover are found, with micro-topography and aspect suggested as primary controls. Pollen taphonomy is investigated at the River Wye in Derbyshire to provide a context for the palaeoenvironmental study. The taphonomic model at the River Wye field site was found to be more similar to a small enclosed lake, contradicting the model proposed for open fluvial systems.

Sub-fossil pollen evidence suggests that climatic change exacerbated by catchment-scale anthropogenic deforestation was the dominant mechanism influencing tufa cessation at both the White Peak field sites. The Monsal Dale field site is suggested as being in the early stages of degradation, and the Lathkill Dale field site suggested as representing the terminal stage of the tufa system shut-down.

Department of Geography, Environment & Earth Sciences, The University of Hull
Bunting, M. Jane
Qualification level
Qualification name
11 MB
QR Code