Radiometric and AMS radiocarbon dating of a 6-m sediment core from Loch Ness, Scotland, indicates that it represents perhaps the very end of the Late Pleistocene, and the first ca. 7500 yr of the Holocene. Counts of laminations observed in the Holocene section of the core suggest that they are present in sufficient number to constitute annual laminations (varves), an hypothesis consistent with the pollen record, which contains a sequence of zones representative of the Early, Middle and part of the Late Holocene regional vegetation history. On the basis of BSEM and X-ray studies of sediments, and modern seston trap data, the laminations are believed to be produced by winter floods, which introduce increased silt loading into the Loch. Sediment for the rest of the year is mostly composed of clay-sized material. This hypothesis is being further tested, however, by continuing sedimentological and microfossil studies.
Time-depth relations for the core based on calibrated 14C dates and lamination counts, respectively, illustrate the close correspondence between the two sets of data. The latter are therefore now being used to develop a varve chronology for the Holocene for Loch Ness. This will then in turn be used for further chronological studies, and for investigations of palaeoclimatic variations over the eastern North Atlantic, to which the signal of lamination thickness in the sediments is thought to be particularly sensitive. They may also eventually be used for calibration studies, employing 14C dating of specific carbon compounds, or groups of compounds extracted from the sediment using modern organic geochemical methods.