Fire History of a Giant African Baobab Evinced by Radiocarbon Dating

TitleFire History of a Giant African Baobab Evinced by Radiocarbon Dating
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsPatrut, A, Mayne, DH, von Reden, KF, Lowy, DA, van Pelt, R, McNichol, AP, Roberts, ML, Margineanu, D
Date Published2010
ISBN Number0033-8222
Keywordsage calibration, bomb c-14 data, bombacaceae, cal kyr bp, southern-hemisphere, system

The article reports the first radiocarbon dating of a live African baobab (Adansonia digitata L.), by investigating wood samples collected from 2 inner cavities of the very large 2-stemmed Platland tree of South Africa. Some 16 segments extracted from determined positions of the samples, which correspond to a depth of up to 15-20 cm in the wood, were processed and analyzed by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). Calibrated ages of segments are not correlated with their positions in the stems of the tree. Dating results indicate that the segments originate from new growth layers, with a thickness of several centimeters, which cover the original old wood. Four new growth layers were dated before the reference year AD 1950 and 2 layers were dated post-AD 1950, in the post-bomb period. Formation of these layers was triggered by major damage inside the cavities. Fire episodes are the only possible explanation for such successive major wounds over large areas or over the entire area of the inner cavities of the Platland tree, able to trigger regrowth.