Geomorphic evolution of Whiteoak Bottoms, Nantahala River Valley, western North Carolina, USA
McDonald, Jacob Michael
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Focus is on the geomorphic evolution of Whiteoak Bottoms (WOB), a peatland in the Nantahala River valley of western North Carolina, to develop a better understanding of the evolution of this and similar rare peatlands in the region. Radiocarbon dates on seeds and bulk peat directly above basal fluvial sediments, at 190 cm, returned ages of about 14,000 cal yr BP. These ages indicate WOB is the oldest dated peatland in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains and that such wetlands have persisted throughout the Holocene. The stratigraphy reveals a consistent pattern with basal channel cobbles being overlain by sandy channel-fill grading up into peat. Two different distinct inorganic deposits separate the lower organic deposits from the sapric deposits at the surface. Maintenance of WOB initially depended on the Nantahala River, whereas today it is the influences of groundwater and beavers that allow for the persistence of this rare landscape.