Tree ring dating history

13 Feb

The tree's name refers to the mythological figure Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and gave it to man.In 1963 he became aware of the bristlecone populations in the Snake Range in general, and on Wheeler Peak in particular.Based on the trees' size, growth rate and growth forms, he became convinced that some were very old, cored some of them, and found trees exceeding 3,000 years in age, but Currey was not able to obtain a continuous series of overlapping cores from WPN-114. It is not clear whether Currey requested, or Forest Service personnel suggested, that he cut down and section the tree in lieu of coring it.In the article, Currey indicates that he sectioned the tree as much to determine whether the oldest bristlecones were necessarily confined to California's White Mountains (as some dendrochronologists had been claiming) as from its usefulness in regard to studies of the Little Ice Age.Whatever the rationale, the tree was cut down and sectioned in August 1964, and several pieces of the sections were hauled out to be processed and analyzed, first by Currey, then by others in later years.

Others, at least one of whom was involved in the decision-making and tree cutting, believe that the tree was clearly unique — obviously older than other trees in the area.At least one person involved says that Currey knew that to be true at the time, although there is no known admission from Currey that he did, and others have disputed that the tree, based on observation alone, was obviously much older than the others.