Navigation Links
Mystery of infamous 'New England Dark Day' solved by tree rings
Date:6/9/2008

COLUMBIA, Mo. At noon, it was black as night. It was May 19, 1780 and some people in New England thought judgment day was at hand. Accounts of that day, which became known as 'New England's Dark Day,' include mentions of midday meals by candlelight, night birds coming out to sing, flowers folding their petals,and strange behavior from animals. The mystery of this day has been solved by researchers at the University of Missouri who say evidence from tree rings reveals massive wildfires as the likely cause, one of several theories proposed after the event, but dismissed as 'simple and absurd.'

"The patterns in tree rings tell a story," said Erin McMurry, research assistant in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Tree Ring Laboratory. "We think of tree rings as ecological artifacts. We know how to date the rings and create a chronology, so we can tell when there has been a fire or a drought occurred and unlock the history the tree has been holding for years."

Limited ability for long-distance communication prevented colonists from knowing the cause of the darkness. It was dark in Maine and along the southern coast of New England with the greatest intensity occurring in northeast Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and southwest Maine. In the midst of the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington noted the dark day in his diary while he was in New Jersey.

Nearly 230 years later, MU researchers combined written accounts and fire scar evidence to determine that the dark day was caused by massive wildfires burning in Canada.

"A fire comes along and heat goes through the bark, killing the living tissue. A couple of years later, the bark falls off revealing the wood and an injury to the tree. When looking at the rings, you see charcoal formation on the outside and a resin formation on the top that creates a dark spot," said Richard Guyette, director of the Tree Ring Lab and research associate professor of forestry in the MU School of Natural Resources.

The researchers studied tree rings from the Algonquin Highlands of southern Ontario and many other locations. They found that a major fire had burned in 1780 affecting atmospheric conditions hundred of miles away. Large smoke columns were created and carried into the upper atmosphere.

"This study was a unique opportunity to take historical accounts and combine them with modern technology and the physical historical evidence from the tree rings and solve a mystery with science," McMurry said.

The study "Fire Scars Reveal Source of New England's 1780 Dark Day" was published in the International Journal of Wildland Fire.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jennifer Faddis
FaddisJ@missouri.edu
573-882-6217
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Mystery of infamous New England Dark Day solved by 3 rings
2. A Great Lakes mystery: The case of the disappearing species
3. Clue to mystery crustacean in parasite form
4. MIT solves gravity-defying bird beak mystery
5. MIT-led teams unravel heparin death mystery
6. Ancient lemurs little finger poses mystery
7. Mystery behind the strongest creature in the world
8. Bright lights: Mystery of glowing antibody solved by Scripps research scientists
9. Has the mystery of the Antarctic ice sheet been solved?
10. UCLA researchers solve decade-old mystery
11. Ancient mystery solved
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/9/2017)... MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. , March 9, 2017 ... and 23andMe , the leading personal genetics company, ... Zipongo can now provide customers with personalized nutrition plans ... and biometrics, but also genetic markers impacting how their ... Zipongo,s personalized food decision support platform uses biometrics such ...
(Date:3/7/2017)... , March 7, 2017   HireVue , ... top global companies identify the best talent, faster, today ... Chief Sales Officer (CSO) and Diana Kucer ... round out a seasoned executive team poised to drive continued ... building on a year of record bookings in 2017. ...
(Date:3/2/2017)... , March 2, 2017 Summary This ... Perrigo and its partnering interests and activities since 2010. ... Read the ... and Alliance since 2010 report provides an in-depth insight into ... sciences companies. On demand company reports are prepared ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/24/2017)... March 24, 2017 Sinovac Biotech Ltd. ("Sinovac" or the ... China , today announced that its board of directors ... of the plan from March 27, 2017 to March 27, 2018. The ... About Sinovac Biotech Ltd. ... Sinovac Biotech Ltd. is a ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... , March 24, 2017   Sienna Biopharmaceuticals, ... aesthetics company, today announced that Richard Peterson ... March 24.   Peterson, who brings more than ... John Smither , who is retiring at the end ... an advisory capacity. Peterson joins Sienna from Novan, Inc., ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... MA (PRWEB) , ... March 23, 2017 , ... ... “a viscoelastic material that exhibits both viscous and elastic characteristics when deformed, which ... disc polymer exhibits properties to gently absorb compressive forces and return to its ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... , Mar 23, 2017 Research ... Products: Global Markets" report to their offering. ... The Global ... $466.6 Billion in 2016 at a CAGR of 8.9%, ... energetic and non-energetic bioproducts into seven major product segments: bio-derived ...
Breaking Biology Technology: