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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Journal of Sedimentary Research (SEPM)


Journal of Sedimentary Petrology
Vol. 44 (1974)No. 3. (September), Pages 716-726

Petrography and Paleoecology of Holocene Peats from the Okefenokee Swamp-Marsh Complex of Georgia

Arthur D. Cohen


The Okefenokee Swamp, a paludal region of over 400,000 acres is developed upon a terrace which was formerly a Pleistocene marine lagoon separated from the open ocean by a long barrier island (now Trail Ridge). Peat has developed in this region to a maximum depth in some places of approximately 15 ft. Nine peat cores taken within the Swamp with a piston-coring device were selected for detailed paleobotanical and petrographic analyses.

The lack of any salt tolerant plants in the peat at the contact with the sandy substrate suggests that some considerable length of time occurred after withdrawal of the sea and before production of the first peats. Also the fact that the first-formed peat in all cases was a highly oxidized deposit containing residual siliceous material indicates that some thickness of previously deposited peat may have been destroyed before the onset of modern peat deposition.

Paleobotanical analyses of cores from the three largest marshes (Chase Prairie, Grand Prairie, and Floyd's Prairie) reveal that these areas have not changed greatly in vegetational and depositional environment from the beginning of peat formation in the Okefenokee. In addition, the present positions of these prairies seems to be controlled by the positions of pre-peat topographic lows. Their vegetational continuity to the present day is probably related to: (1) a continuous, uniform rise in water table; (2) the common occurrence of fires in the Okefenokee; and (3) the consistently greater depths of peat in these regions.

In this region, fires were found to have played an important part in the history of peat development. These burns were recorded in the cores as zones of abundant charcoal and residual, siliceous, fresh water sponge spicules.

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