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Do peatland microforms move through time? Examining the developmental history of a patterned peatland using ground-penetrating radar

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • Nicholas Kettridge
  • Andrew Binley
  • Xavier Comas
  • Nigel J. Cassidy
  • Andy J. Baird
  • Angela Harris
  • Jan van der Kruk
  • Maria Strack
  • Alice M. Milner
  • James M. Waddington
Article numberARTN G03030
Journal publication date09/2012
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Number of pages11
Early online date18/09/12
Original languageEnglish


Using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to map subsurface patterns in peat physical properties, we investigated the developmental history of meso-scale surface patterning of microforms within a raised bog. Common offset GPR measurements were obtained along a 45-m transect, at frequencies ranging from 100 to 900 MHz. We found that low-frequency (central frequency <240 MHz) GPR could not adequately represent the subsurface structures of the peatland because individual peat layers were too thin. However, more detailed high-frequency measurements (central frequency >= 240 MHz) showed a striking pattern of subsurface reflections that dip consistently in a northerly direction. The angle of these dipping reflectors is calculated using a semblance algorithm and was shown to average 3.9 degrees between a depth of 1.0 and 2.5 m. These dipping reflectors may indicate downslope migration of surface microforms during the development of the peatland. Based on the estimated angle and the rate of peat accumulation, the average rate of downslope propagation of these surface microforms is calculated at 9.8 mm per year. Further survey work is required to establish whether the downslope migration is common across the peatland.