- Winchester V.
- 12(3): 611 [18 p.]
Lichenometry, a method for dating rock surface exposure mainly in high latitudes and mountain environments, is based on estimates of lichen growth rates, but over the last 70 years it has been severely criticised. Its chief limitation is its questionable reliability due to three main problems: the species belonging to the Rhizocarpon subgenus, most often used by lichenometrists, are hard to identify; growth studies have highlighted the intrinsic variability of growth both seasonally and annually, with species sensitively responding to a wide range of environmental factors; and the same sensitive dependence also applies to the time taken for colonization on fresh rock surfaces. These problems cast doubt on many absolute dating studies and critics have suggested that, at best, the technique should only be used for relative dating. This paper provides guidance on identification procedures and suggests alternative dating methods based on lichen size-frequency distributions and cross-dating with other lichen species, thus avoiding reliance on a single species or support from other methods. With appropriate development, it is hoped that these approaches can provide a way forward that allows the technique to contribute more reliably to the dating of rock surfaces in regions where there are few other dating options.
Keywords: lichenometry; Rhizocarpon; identification; variable growth; colonization; absolute dating; relative dating; size-frequency distributions; cross-dating.
- Saturday, 04 March 2023 19:28