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Implications of radiocarbon ages of organic and inorganic carbon in coastal lakes in Florida for establishing a reliable chronology for sediment-based paleoclimate reconstruction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 November 2018

Yang Wang*
Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-4100, USA National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Tallahassee, Florida 32310, USA Institute of Groundwater and Earth Sciences, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, China
Oindrila Das
Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-4100, USA National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Tallahassee, Florida 32310, USA Department of Geosciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487, USA
Xiaomei Xu
Keck Carbon Cycle AMS Facility, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California 92697-3100, USA
Jin Liu
Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-4100, USA National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Tallahassee, Florida 32310, USA Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, Beijing 100037, China
Shakura Jahan
Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-4100, USA National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Tallahassee, Florida 32310, USA
Guy H. Means
Florida Geological Survey, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Tallahassee, Florida 32303, USA
Joseph Donoghue
Planetary Sciences - Department of Physics, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida 32816-2385, USA
Shijun Jiang
Institute of Groundwater and Earth Sciences, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, China
*Corresponding author at: Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, and National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-4100, USA. E-mail: (Y. Wang).


Coastal lake sediments are valuable paleoclimate archives provided that they can be accurately dated. Here, we report radiocarbon ages of bulk sediment organic matter (OM), plants, shells, particulate OM, and dissolved OM from coastal lakes in Florida. Bulk sediment OM yielded ages that are consistently older than contemporaneous plants and shells, indicating significant radiocarbon deficiencies in sedimentary OM in these lakes. The data show that the OM radiocarbon deficiency varies over time and with location, making it impossible to determine a proper correction factor for radiocarbon ages of bulk sediments from these lakes. As a result, we consider ages obtained from bulk sediment OM from these lakes unreliable. The age reversals in bulk sediment OM observed in the sediment cores are likely caused by rapid increases in erosion and sedimentation resulting from large storm events. The data also show that sedimentation rate can vary considerably within a given lake, implying that an age-depth model established for one core cannot be directly applied to other cores despite their close proximity. Analyses of shells from one of the lakes suggest that fresh/brackish-water shells may serve as a good substrate for radiocarbon dating owing to a small reservoir effect on inorganic carbon.

Research Article
Copyright © University of Washington. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2018 

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