Dendrochronological Applications

  • dendro: using trees, or more specifically the growth rings of trees
  • chrono: time, or more specifically events in past time
  • logy: the study of
Applications in dendrochronology include:
  • ecology: insect outbreaks, forest stand structure, past fires (see image to the right):
    • The white arrows indicate distinct fires of the past
    • Each of those fires has been dendrochronologically dated to the year it burned
  • climatology: past droughts or cold periods
  • geology: past earthquakes, volcanic eruptions
  • anthropology: past construction, habitation, and abandonment of societies
fire-scarred Douglas-fir sample
Photo provided by C.D. Allen and H.D. Grissino-Mayer
Common objectives:
  • Put the present in perspective of the past
  • Better understand current environmental processes and conditions
  • Improve understanding of possible environmental issues of the future
To meet these objectives, the exact year of formation of each growth ring must be known:
  • Merely counting rings doesn't ensure accurate dating
  • Crossdating, also known as pattern matching, ensures accurate dating

Good idea: Follow these web pages to learn why and how to crossdate with skeleton plotting and then try skeleton plotting for yourself

Paul R. Sheppard
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, The University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona 85721 USA
office: (520) 621-6474, fax: (520) 621-8229
Comments to: