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Preliminary petrographic analysis of quaternary organic sediments from Congaree National Park, South Carolina.

A core sample was taken through organic sediments from the edge of the Congaree river floodplain. Previous radiocarbon tests suggest that these sediments date to the late Pleistocene. Oriented microtome sections were prepared by placing two centimeter cubes of core material in copper cages, dehydrating them in various alcohol solutions, embedding them in paraffin, slicing them with a sliding microtome, and mounting them on slides. Microscopic analyses of slides indicate abundant matrix and organic framework components including, but not limited to: leaves, roots, diatoms, spores, pollen, fecal pellets, and charcoal. Analyses using a polarizing light microscope aids in identification of cellulose and various minerals such as quartz and feldspar. Taphonomy and composition of the sediments permit a qualitative assessment of the environmental conditions and changes over time in the area. Matrix, fecal pellets, fungal spores, and charcoal indicate low water levels and dry conditions. The presence of diatoms and well-preserved framework components, as well as the relative lack of low water level indicators, suggest high water levels and wet conditions. Further research and quantitative assessments of these samples will aid in determining the effects of sea level and regional climate changes on the groundwater table over the past several thousand years. The upper subsamples from the core will be used to determine recent human impacts on the system. These data will eventually provide park management with an understanding of the environmental cycles and changes affecting the floodplain.
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Title Annotation:SOUTH CAROLINA JUNIOR ACADEMY OF SCIENCE ABSTRACTS
Author:Marenick, Jackie E.A.
Publication:Bulletin of the South Carolina Academy of Science
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Words:237
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