The role of peat decomposition in patterned mires: A case study from the central Swiss Alps

Brigitta Ammann, Herbert E. Wright, Vania Stefanova, Jacqueline F.N. Van Leeuwen, Willem O. Van Der Knaap, Daniele Colombaroli, Willy Tinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Anumber of hydrological, botanical, macro- and micro-climatological processes are involved in the formation of patterned peatlands. La Grande Tsa at 2336 m a.s.l. is probably the highest bog in the central Swiss Alps and is unique in its pattern. In two of five pools there is in the contact zone between the basal peat and the overlying gyttja an unconformity in the depth-age models based on radiocarbon dates. Palynostratigraphies of cores from a ridge and a pool confirm the occurrence of an unconformity in the contact zone.We conclude that deepening of the pools results from decomposition of peat. The fact that the dated unconformities in the two pools and the unconformity in the ridge-core all fall within the Bronze Age suggest they were caused by events external to the bog.We hypothesize that early transhumance resulted in anthropogenic lowering of the timberline, which resulted in a reduction in the leaf-area index and evapotranspiration, and in higher water levels and thus pool formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-332
Number of pages16
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 29 2013


  • Deepening of pools
  • Mires
  • Patterned peatlands
  • Peat decomposition
  • Pool formation


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