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Hydrogeomorphic control on tree growth responses in the Elton area of the Cheshire Saltfield, UK

Lageard, JGA and Drew, IB (2008) Hydrogeomorphic control on tree growth responses in the Elton area of the Cheshire Saltfield, UK. Geomorphology, 95 (3-4). pp. 158-171. ISSN 0169-555X

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Abstract

Increment cores were sampled from oak (Quercus robur) and ash (Fraxinus excelsior) growing at Elton, an area of the Cheshire Saltfield that has experienced significant subsidence and damage to the natural and built environments in the latter part of the twentieth century. Ring-width measurements for Elton trees permitted the construction of one main site chronology (Elton) and four sub chronologies (Elton A, Elton B, Elton C, Elton ASH). Ring-width difference between these and a control chronology identified periods of sustained growth reduction in oak trees commencing in AD 1859/1861, 1886 and 1934. Growth reductions after 1934 are related to watertable draw down caused by brine pumping from a concentration of nine boreholes at Elton, up to 2 km from tree sampling locations. Growth reductions in 1859/1861 and 1886 are likely to be the result of earlier phases of brine pumping in the Wheelock Valley, up to 5 km to the east of Elton, and these reductions correlate well with historic records of subsidence and pumping activity. Cessation of pumping in 1977 led to a lagged growth recovery in oak trees between 1981 and 1986, indicating that an artificial drought had been imposed on the Elton area for a period in excess off 100-y. This research demonstrates a hydrological separation of surface water and groundwater in an area where salt beds are overlain by till and that ring-width records of Q. robur can be used to reconstruct watertable variability and also the spatial impact of solution mining. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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