Synopsis

Radiocarbon dates from peats within and below coastal dune sands at Opinan and Redpoint, Wester Ross, Scotland, provide age constraints on phases of peat accumulation, dune development, and podzolic soil formation. Although the two dune systems are only 4 km apart they do not share identical histories of landsurface stability and aeolian sand deposition. Most dune building occurred as relative sea level (RSL) was falling but because the dunes are perched on glacifluvial terraces several metres above RSL maximum, the creation of accommodation space consequent upon RSL fall was not a prerequisite for dune development. Some dune phases also correspond in timing with documented climate shifts to cooler, wetter and/or stormier conditions - in the Little Ice Age 400 cal. years bp, around 2500 cal. years bp, and at about 8100 cal. years bp. Preliminary estimates of the rate of podzolic soil development are similar to those reported for aeolian sandy parent materials elsewhere.

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