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Radiocarbon Wiggle-Match Dating of Bulk Sediments—How Accurate can It Be?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 February 2016

Anette Mellström*
Department of Geology, Quaternary Sciences, Lund University, Sölvegatan 12, SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden
Raimund Muscheler
Department of Geology, Quaternary Sciences, Lund University, Sölvegatan 12, SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden
Ian Snowball
Department of Geology, Quaternary Sciences, Lund University, Sölvegatan 12, SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden Department of Earth Sciences - Geophysics, Uppsala University, Villavägen 16, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
Wenxin Ning
Department of Geology, Quaternary Sciences, Lund University, Sölvegatan 12, SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden
Eeva Haltia
Department of Geology, Quaternary Sciences, Lund University, Sölvegatan 12, SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden
2Corresponding author. Email:


We used the radiocarbon wiggle-match dating technique to date the varved sediments of Lake Gyltigesjön in southern Sweden with the main aim to construct an accurate chronology covering the period between about 3000 and 2000 cal BP. Wiggle-match dating was applied to bulk sediments to evaluate the possibility of constructing accurate chronologies in the absence of terrestrial plant macrofossils and when the amount of old carbon in the sediments is unknown. Facilitated by a floating varve chronology and relatively stable 14C reservoir ages, the results show the possibility to assess the contribution of old carbon solely based on the 14C wiggle-matching of bulk sediments. We confirm the wiggle-matched chronology and the 14C reservoir age of approximately 260 yr by cross-checking the results with 14C dating of macrofossils. The obtained calibrated ages based on bulk sediments have an uncertainty range of about 60–65 yr (95.4% confidence interval). This study confirms that 14C wiggle-match dating of bulk sediments is a viable tool when constructing high-resolution chronologies. The method is especially useful in Sun-climate studies since the timing between solar activity variations (expressed as 14C variations) and climate changes can be accurately determined.

Radiocarbon Reservoir Effects
Copyright © 2013 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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