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Implications for the Dating of Wisconsinan (Weichselian) Late-Glacial Events of Systematic Radiocarbon Age Differences between Terrestrial Plant Macrofossils from a Site in SW Ireland

  • Chris S.M. Turney (a1), G. Russell Coope (a1), Doug D. Harkness (a2), J. John Lowe (a1) and Michael J.C. Walker (a3)...
Abstract
Abstract

AMS radiocarbon dates were obtained from Salix herbacea leaves, Carex seeds, and bulk organic detritus from a lake sediment profile of Wisconsinan (Weichselian) Lateglacial age in SW Ireland. There is a systematic age difference between the dated series from the two types of macrofossils, with ages obtained from Salix herbacea leaves being 900 to 1500 14C years younger than those obtained from Carex seeds. The latter tend to be more in accord with dates from the total organic detritus in the lake sediment, although the bulk organic fraction invariably registered the older ages. Intact survival of the fragile Salix leaves indicates that they are unlikely to have been physically transferred within the sediment matrix and/or otherwise reworked from the surrounding catchment. Hence, these macrofossils are the more likely to be contemporaneous with the time of deposition. However, there is no significant correlation between measured 14C age and depth in the Salix values, which scatter over a range of 700 14C years. In contrast, the age/depth relationship for Carex shows a significant reversal, possibly reflecting the redeposition of these macrofossils, and therefore giving radiocarbon ages that are anomalously old. The data have important implications for the dating of lake sediment sequences by AMS radiocarbon measurement of terrestrial plant macrofossils.

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Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
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