Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 July 2017
A robust marine radiocarbon (14C) reservoir correction (ΔR) is essential for calibrating 14C dates of marine mollusks and fish bones routinely found in archaeological sites as discarded food remains and bones of terrestrial animals (including humans) with an appreciable marine diet. New ΔR values are reported for the atoll archipelago of the Marshall Islands, eastern Micronesia. Atolls consist of biogenetic material—mostly coral and foraminifera—that can be directly dated for establishing sequences of atoll emergence and islet development. After sectioning and examination using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to screen for sample diagenesis, 6 pristine branch coral samples were selected from the modern oceanside beach, 3 archaeological sites, and islet developmental facies from Ebon Atoll (4º34′N, 168º41′E). Each sample was analyzed by U-series and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) 14C showing no substantial temporal ΔR variations and yielding a weighted mean ΔR of 41±42 yr1 spanning ~500 yr before earliest human colonization (the period when islets first became habitable) through the entire 2000-yr occupation sequence. Reliable published ΔR values for Micronesia and Δ14C data for Palmyra Island, together with our results for Ebon Atoll, indicate that the Pacific North Equatorial Counter Current is almost stable for the past 2500 yr.
Note that throughout this paper we use yr as a shortened form of 14C yr when discussing ΔR values.