Accumulation and attrition of peat soils in the Australian Alps: Isotopic dating evidence


Present address: Global Change Processes, Landcare Research, PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand (Email:


Bog peat soils have been accumulating at Wellington Plain peatland, Victoria, Australia for the last 3300 years. Now, dried peat soils are common adjacent to bog peats. The 14C basal age of dried peat is not different from the 14C basal age of bog peat, which supports the theory that dried peat formed from bog peat. A novel application of 210Pb dating links the timing of this change with the introduction of livestock to Wellington Plain in the mid-1800s. Physical loss of material appears to have been the dominant process removing material as bog peats drained to form dried peats, as indicated by the mass balances of carbon and lead. This research has implications for the post-fire and post-grazing restoration of bogs in Victoria's Alpine National Park, and the contribution of peat soils to Australia's carbon emissions.