Hydrology has been suggested as the mechanism controlling vegetation and related surficial pore-water chemistry in large peatlands. Peatland hydrology influences the carbon dynamics within these large carbon reservoirs and will influence their response to global warming. A geophysical survey was completed in Caribou Bog, a large peatland in Maine, to evaluate peatland stratigraphy and hydrology. Geophysical measurements were integrated with direct measurements of peat stratigraphy from probing, fluid chemistry, and vegetation patterns in the peatland. Consistent with previous field studies, ground-penetrating radar (GPR) was an excellent method for delineating peatland stratigraphy. Prominent reflectors from the peat-lake sediment and lake sediment-mineral soil contacts were precisely recorded up to 8 m deep. Two-dimensional resistivity and induced polarization imaging were used to investigate stratigraphy beneath the mineral soil, beyond the range of GPR. We observe that the peat is chargeable, and that IP imaging is an alternative method for defining peat thickness. The chargeability of peat is attributed to the high surface-charge density on partially decomposed organic matter. The electrical conductivity imaging resolved glaciomarine sediment thickness (a confining layer) and its variability across the basin. Comparison of the bulk conductivity images with peatland vegetation revealed a correlation between confining layer thickness and dominant vegetation type, suggesting that stratigraphy exerts a control on hydrogeology and vegetation distribution within this peatland. Terrain conductivity measured with a Geonics EM31 meter correlated with confining glaciomarine sediment thickness and was an effective method for estimating variability in glaciomarine sediment thickness over approximately 18 km2. Our understanding of the hydrogeology, stratigraphy, and controls on vegetation growth in this peatland was much enhanced from the geophysical study.

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