The archaic and puzzling record of Lake Xere Wapo, New Caledonia
Research into the palaeoenvironmental history of New Caledonia was begun independently by Hope and Stevenson in the early 1990s. While the original work of Hope and colleagues was centred around questions of the long-term vegetation dynamics of maquis and rainforest within the ultramafic terrain of New Caledonia (Hope and Pask 1998; Read et al. 2000), Stevenson and colleagues were exploring questions of human impact and the detection of initial human settlement (Stevenson and Dodson 1995; Stevenson 1998; Stevenson et al. 2001; Stevenson 2004). Hope and Stevenson later came together to work on the longest record so far recovered from the tropical southwest Pacific, Lake Xere Wapo in southwest New Caledonia. Having published the initial findings from this site (Stevenson and Hope 2005), a major problem remained, that of a robust chronology. The 12 m core XW-B reached radiocarbon background shortly after 300 cm, had several significant age inversions and had what appeared to be a very shallow Holocene sequence of fewer than 20 cm. Stevenson and Hope revisited Lake Xere Wapo in 2005, collecting new material for further dating aimed at untangling the chronology. Results from this new dating program are reported here, with a summary of previous radiocarbon determinations.
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