Developmental And Environmental History Of The Dismal Swamp

Metadata Updated: December 12, 2017

Pollen analysis of several cores from the Dismal Swamp in southeastern Virginia have indicated that the swamp is a relatively young feature, having begun to develop along drainage lows as recently as the late-glacial. Formation of extensive fresh-water marshes along streams appears to have been brought about by general water-table changes controlled by the postglacial rise of sea level. As the sea continued to rise, marsh development proceeded inland and fine-grained organic sediments began to accumulate. By 6,000 years B.P. approximately 50% of Dismal Swamp area had been mantled by fine-grained peat deposits. From 6,000 to 3,500 B.P. peat accumulation continued, but at an appreciably lower rate. This corresponds both to the hypsithermal interval and to a distinct slackening in the rate of sea-level rise. By 3,500 B.P. peat had mantled virtually all of the interfluves and "islands" within the swamp. The pollen diagrams suggest a gradual change from boreal spruce-pine forests during the full-glacial, to somewhat less boreal pine-spruce during the early late-glacial, to hardwood forests containing many species characteristic of the present northern hardwoods forests during the latter portion of the late-glacial, to hardwood-dominated forests containing species now found in southeastern Virginia during the early postglacial. {!though precise vegetational and environmental reconstructions are not possible, this general sequence suggests a unidirectional climatic amelioration from conditions comparable to those in northern New England during the full-glacial to a climate comparable to the present by 8,000 years B.P. The climate may have been warmer and drier during the hypsithermal, but the observed changes could just as easily be a result of a slackening in the rate of sea-level rise. The cypress-gum forests that have characterized the Dismal Swamp for the past 3,500 years have been variable both spatially and temporally. These variations doubtless reflect local differences in water table, peat depth, fires, wind throws, and a variety of human disturbances. The origin of Lake Drummond remains an enigma. It is a young feature of the swamp, apparently originating only 4,000 years ago. It is not the last vestige of an earlier open-water phase of the swamp.

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Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: No license information was provided. If this work was prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties it is considered a U.S. Government Work.

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Metadata Created Date December 2, 2017
Metadata Updated Date December 12, 2017

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Harvested from DOI CKAN Harvest Source

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date December 2, 2017
Metadata Updated Date December 12, 2017
Publisher Fish and Wildlife Service
Unique Identifier FWS_ServCat_82903
Brent Frakes
Maintainer Email
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code "010:18"
Metadata Context
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Data Quality true
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Harvest Source Id 9364572a-43e2-4cb5-a0ee-589c8af0e137
Harvest Source Title FWS-servecat
Data First Published 1972-07-01
Homepage URL
Data Last Modified 1972-07-01
Program Code "010:094", "010:028"
Related Documents ""
Source Datajson Identifier true
Source Hash 6a436c373af330ebbf3a5a9b3a909a9ed204e866
Source Schema Version 1.1
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Temporal 1961-07-01/1962-07-01
Category "Published Report"

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