Radiocarbon is the main international journal of record for research articles and date lists relevant to 14C and other radioisotopes and techniques used in archaeological, geophysical, oceanographic, and related dating.

This archive provides access to Radiocarbon Volumes 1-54 (1959-2012).

As of 2016, Radiocarbon is published by Cambridge University Press. The journal is published quarterly. Radiocarbon also publishes conference proceedings and monographs on topics related to fields of interest. Visit Cambridge Online for new Radiocarbon content and to submit manuscripts.

ISSN: 0033-8222


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  • Water Column Profiles of Dissolved Inorganic Radiocarbon for the Kuroshio Region, Offshore of the Southern Japanese Coast

    Tsuboi, Tatsuya; Iwata, Hiroshi; Wada, Hideki; Matsuzaki, Hiroyuki; Sohrin, Rumi; Hiroe, Yutaka; Ichikawa, Tadafumi; Hidaka, Kiyotaka; Watanabe, Tomoo (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
    We present the water column profiles (surface to 2000 m depth) for dissolved inorganic radiocarbon ([delta]14CDIC) from 2 stations in the Kuroshio region including the Kuroshio large meander (LM) of 2004–2005. Surprisingly, the [delta]14CDIC value varied up to 125‰ in the intermediate layer, especially near 600 m depth. In addition, the [delta]14CDIC value was approximately -150‰ at 200 m depth at the northern station of Kuroshio in August 2005. This value is ~100‰ less than other [delta]14CDIC values for the same depth. In comparison, the [delta]14CDIC water column profiles for the southern station of Kuroshio and GEOSECS station 224 decrease down to 600 m depth and were similar below 600 m depth. Our results suggest that strong upwelling associated with the Kuroshio LM has a powerful influence on the [delta]14CDIC water column profiles in the study region.
  • Δ14C and δ13C of Seawater DIC as Tracers of Coastal Upwelling: A 5-Year Time Series from Southern California

    Santos, Guaciara M.; Ferguson, Julie; Acaylar, Kayla; Johnson, Kathleen R.; Griffin, Sheila; Druffel, Ellen (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
    Marine radiocarbon (14C) is a widely used tracer of past ocean circulation, but very few high-resolution records have been obtained. Here, we report a time series of carbon isotope abundances of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in surface seawater collected from the Newport Beach pier in Orange County, within the Southern California Bight, from 2005 to 2010. Surface seawater was collected bimonthly and analyzed for 14C, 13C, and salinity. Results from May 2005 to November 2010 show no long-term changes in 13C DIC values and no consistent variability that can be attributed to upwelling. 14C DIC values have lowered from ~34 to about ~16, an 18 decrease from the beginning of this project in 2005, and is consistent with the overall 14C depletion from the atmospheric thermonuclear bomb pulse at the end of the 1950s. 14C DIC values, paired with salinity, do appear to be suitable indicators of upwelling strength with periods of upwelling characterized by more saline and lower DIC 14C values. However, a similar signal was not observed during the strong upwelling event of 2010. These results were obtained in the Southern California Bight where upwelling is fairly weak and there is a complex oceanographic circulation in comparison with the remaining western USA coastline. It is therefore likely that the link between DIC 14C, salinity, and upwelling would be even stronger at other sites. These data represent the longest time series of 14C data from a coastal Southern California site performed to date.
  • Verification of an Archaic Age Occupation on Barbados, Southern Lesser Antilles

    Fitzpatrick, Scott M. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
    The Caribbean Archaic Age (about 3000–500 BC) is thought to represent the earliest migration of humans from South America into the Lesser Antilles. However, here is a conspicuous absence of these early sites on islands south of the Guadeloupe Passage. To date, only a single radiocarbon date derived from a Queen conch (Strombus [Eustrombus] gigas) shell at the Heywoods site on Barbados was indicative of an Archaic occupation in the southern Antilles apart from a scattering of poorly reported (and mostly undated) sites. Given a number of issues associated with reliance on a single date to establish a cultural horizon, along with other problems derived from possible carbonate cement contamination and dating marine shells of a longer-lived species such as Queen conch, 2 additional samples were taken from the same unit and context at Heywoods to confirm whether the site is truly representative of an occupation during the Archaic Age. Results from a Queen conch shell adze in Context 7 dated to 2530–2200 BC (2 sigma) and overlaps with the only other Archaic date from the site dating to 2320–1750 cal BC, while a juvenile specimen of the same species from Context 8 at 3280–2940 BC (2 sigma) indicates that Barbados may have been settled even earlier. This suggests that Heywoods may be the oldest site between Trinidad and Puerto Rico. While further confirmation is required, these new dates have implications for understanding the nature of migratory ventures in the Caribbean, such as whether the Southward Route hypothesis which postulates that earlier migration events from South America during the Ceramic Age (beginning ~500 BC) initially bypassed the southern Lesser Antilles also applies to the Archaic, and if other phenomena such as active volcanism may have played a role in structuring settlement patterns. Questions also remain as to why Heywoods does not exhibit the typical lithic Archaic tool kit.
  • Using a Silica Substrate to Monitor the Effectiveness of Radiocarbon Pretreatment

    Dee, M. W.; Brock, F.; Bowles, A. D.; Bronk Ramsey, C. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
    The objective of radiocarbon pretreatment is to eliminate any contaminant carbon from the sample material. Solvent washes and acid-base-acid (ABA) procedures are widely used for this purpose. However, quantitatively analyzing their effectiveness is surprisingly problematic, as it often requires large numbers of 14C measurements or high-precision compositional analysis. The technique presented here involves monitoring the impact of different forms of contamination by measuring their adherence to a non-carbonaceous substrate called Chromosorb. Firstly, the substrate was used in place of a 14C sample in order to monitor the accrual of carbon contamination during a standard solvent wash and ABA pretreatment. This produced a contamination profile against which modifications to the pretreatment procedure could be compared. Secondly, stocks were prepared of Chromosorb that had been infused with environmental contaminants and with common glues, adhesives, and preservatives. By monitoring the elimination of carbon from these stocks, the effectiveness of different pretreatment procedures could be evaluated and the most problematic of the contaminants for 14C dating could be identified.
  • Systematic 14C Dating of a Unique Early and Middle Bronze Age Cemetery at Xeropigado Koiladas, West Macedonia, Greece

    Maniatis, Y.; Ziota, Ch (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-09-16)
    Systematic radiocarbon dating was performed on a unique EBA-MBA cemetery at Xeropigado Koiladas situated at the edge of the Kitrini Limni basin in the Kozani area, northwest Greece. It was found that this cemetery had a particularly long period of use of ~700 yr (between about 2420 and 1730 BC), which is especially pronounced if compared with the relatively small number of burials totaling 222. The dating revealed no spatial differentiation with time; the entire area of the cemetery was used throughout the time. There is a tendency of the dates to concentrate mostly in the time ranges 2200-2030 and 2000-1850 BC, which may tentatively suggest a more intense use of the cemetery during these periods. The results from multiple or consequent burials revealed that this cemetery was a landmark visible to the people of that time for at least 500 yr, if not for the entire period of its use. Some of the graves were built on top of, or adjacent to, older ones without disturbing the old burials. This implies that the Xeropigado cemetery was an important place of reference for at least 25 generations! No settlements have been found yet in the area that could be associated with the Xeropigado cemetery. Some synchronizations with various other sites in west Macedonia, for which 14C dates are available, are presented.
  • Table of Contents

    McClure, Mark (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-09-16)
  • Table of Contents

    McClure, Mark (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
  • Residential Chronology, Household Subsistence, and the Emergence of Socioeconomic Territories in Leeward Kohala, Hawai‘i Island

    Field, Julie S.; Ladefoged, Thegn N.; Sharp, Warren D.; Kirch, Patrick V. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
    Previous research in leeward Kohala, Hawai'i Island, has determined that the Leeward Kohala Field System (LKFS), a vast agricultural zone covering ~60 km2, developed between the 14th and 18th centuries AD. Additional analyses have documented the establishment of traditional socioeconomic territories, known as ahupua'a, in tandem with the expansion of the field system. This article further refines the chronology of human settlement and socioeconomic development in leeward Kohala through the analysis of deposits associated with prehistoric residences. Based upon survey and excavation, we present a chronology for Hawaiian household transition and economic development in 2 study areas of leeward Kohala, spanning the field system to the coast. Forty-nine radiocarbon dates from short-lived plant materials and five 230Th dates on corals from residential and ritual features are synthesized into 3 temporal periods, which allow for comparison of residential size, distribution, number, and associated faunal materials from archaeological deposits. Changes in household composition and economy are suggested to have developed in tandem with the establishment of individual ahupua'a and land divisions within them, and the further development of agricultural production.
  • Radiocarbon laboratories

    McClure, Mark (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
  • Obituary: Jacques Labeyrie (1920–2011)

    Paterne, Martine (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-09-16)
  • New 14C Determinations from Lake Suigetsu, Japan: 12,000 to 0 cal BP

    Staff, Richard A.; Bronk Ramsey, Christopher; Bryant, Charlotte L.; Brock, Fiona; Payne, Rebecca L.; Schlolaut, Gordon; Marshall, Michael H.; Brauer, Achim; Lamb, Henry F.; Tarasov, Pavel; et al. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-09-16)
    Calibration is a fundamental stage of the radiocarbon (14C) dating process if one is to derive meaningful calendar ages from samples 14C measurements. For the first time, the IntCal09 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2009) provided an internationally ratified calibration data set across almost the complete range (0 to 50,000 cal BP) of the 14C timescale. However, only the last 12,550 cal yr of this record are composed of terrestrial data, leaving approximately three quarters of the 14C timescale necessarily calibrated via less secure, marine records (incorporating assumptions pertaining to the temporally variable marine reservoir effect). The predominantly annually laminated (varved) sediment profile of Lake Suigetsu, central Japan, offers an ideal opportunity to derive an extended terrestrial record of atmospheric 14C across the entire range of the method, through pairing of 14C measurements of terrestrial plant macrofossil samples (extracted from the sediment) with the independent chronology provided through counting of its annual laminations.This paper presents new data (182 14C determinations) from the upper (largely non-varved) 15 m of the Lake Suigetsu (SG06) sediment strata. These measurements provide evidence of excellent coherence between the Suigetsu 14C data and the IntCal09 calibration curve across the last ~12,000 cal yr (i.e. the portion of IntCal based entirely on terrestrial data). Such agreement demonstrates that terrestrial plant material picked from the Lake Suigetsu sediment provides a reliable archive of atmospheric 14C, and therefore supports the site as being capable of providing a high-resolution extension to the wholly terrestrial (i.e. non-reservoir-corrected) calibration curve beyond its present 12,550 cal BP limit.
  • New Radiocarbon Dates for the Grenadine Islands (West Indies)

    Fitzpatrick, Scott M.; Giovas, Christina M. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-09-16)
    Intensified archaeological research in the Caribbean over the past 2 decades has provided a wealth of new information on how and when these islands were settled prehistorically. However, there has been a paucity of research on islands in the southern Lesser Antilles, which would allow for more rigorous testing of migration models and various settlement pattern hypotheses. To address some of these chronological and geographical gaps, we present a corpus of 41 radiocarbon dates from several sites in the Grenadine Island chain. Results to date support a relatively late Ceramic Age settlement of these smaller islands (about AD 400) compared to other nearby, larger islands in the southern Lesser Antilles (about AD 200) as well as the Caribbean as a whole (about 400/500 BC). Intriguing questions also remain as to an apparent, but as yet inadequately tested, pattern where earlier colonization dates are correlated with larger island size.
  • New 14C Dates of Neolithic and Early Metal Period Ceramics in Lithuania

    Piličiauskas, Gytis; Lavento, Mika; Oinonen, Markku; Grižas, Gytis (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
    Twenty-three samples of charred food remains, charcoal, burned animals, and human bones from 14 Lithuanian prehistoric sites were dated by radiocarbon as part of a dating project oriented towards renewing the prehistoric ceramics chronology. The new dates modified the dating of ceramic styles by hundreds to a thousand years. Three Textile Ware sherds were dated to 4230–2920 cal BC—the oldest known dates of Textile Ware pottery in the East Baltic. The organic-tempered pointed-bottomed Narva and Combed-like Wares were dated to 3970–3370 cal BC, while Bay Coast Ware (Haffkstenkultur, Rzucewo), including vessels decorated with cord impressions, were dated to 3940–3540 cal BC, i.e. to a period well preceding the Corded Ware/Battle Axe horizon in Europe. Three dates of Globular Amphorae Ware placed the phenomenon directly beyond the Bay Coast chronology, i.e. in 3450–2920 cal BC. Chamotte-tempered Corded Ware from SE Lithuania was dated to 2840–2570 cal BC. The first absolute dating of coarse ware of the Žalioji type pointed to a period of 760–515 cal BC instead of the previously assumed 2nd millennium cal BC. Cremated human bones from urns found at Paveisininkai, Kernavė, and Naudvaris cemeteries were dated to 790–380 cal BC. Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dates obtained from charred food remains should be treated with a certain caution due to a possible freshwater reservoir effect that has not yet been examined in Lithuania.
  • Models, Data, Statistics, and Outliers—A Statistical Revolution in Archaeology and 14C Dating

    Scott, E. Marian (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
    Increasingly, the uses of data are becoming more and more sophisticated as the archaeological and chronological questions being asked become more complex. Statistical models and tools for inference are a routine part of an archaeological investigation encouraged through the availability of software, and with each release of that software, additional functionality is being added. This comes with enormous benefit but also at a costthe dreaded black box. Therefore, this article, as the first in a series of short articles, will attempt to cover some of the things one needs to know to make the most of the power of the statistical revolution, while avoiding the pitfalls.
  • Monitoring the Presence of Humic Substances in Wool and Silk by the Use of Nondestructive Fluorescence Spectroscopy: Quality Control for 14C Dating of Wool and Silk

    Boudin, Mathieu; Boeckx, Pascal; Vandenabeele, Peter; Mitschke, Sylvia; Van Strydonck, Mark (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-09-16)
    Radiocarbon dating of degraded wool and silk provides 14C results of questionable reliability. In most cases, degraded wool/silk contains humic substances (HSs). Thus, a nondestructive fluorescence spectroscopy method, using a fiberoptic probe, was developed to monitor the presence of HSs in degraded wool and silk. This method can provide information about the presence of HSs before and after pretreatment and about the 14C age reliability. This study suggests considering with care wool/silk samples 14C dating wherein HSs are detected, because the conventional solvent pretreatment method using a NaOH wash is in most cases not sufficient to remove all humic substance contaminants. As a result, unreliable 14C dates can be provided.
  • Mammoth Extinction and Radiation Dose: A Comment

    van der Plicht, J.; Jull, A. J. T. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
    Recently, an article was published in this journal, discussing evidence for a solar flare cause of faunal extinction during the Late Pleistocene (LaViolette 2011). The article is based on the hypothesis that an increase in atmospheric radiocarbon concentration might have been produced by a giant solar proton event (SPE). This proposed SPE would deliver a lethal radiation dose of at least 36 Sv to the surface of the Earth, causing termination of the Pleistocene megafauna.
  • Letter from the Editor

    Jull, A. J. Timothy (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
  • Interlaboratory Variability of Radiocarbon Results Obtained from Blind AMS Analyses on Several Modern Carbon Samples

    Norton, Glenn (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-09-16)
    Three samples of modern-day vegetation collected in 2009–2010 and a sample of bioethanol produced in 2010 were analyzed for radiocarbon by 5 different accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) laboratories in a blind analysis study. The magnitude of any variability in the reported results for percent modern carbon (pMC) was observed. Results indicated that the interlaboratory repeatability on the samples of vegetation was generally very good, varying by no more than ~1 pMC for 2 of the 3 samples. Results for the bioethanol were less consistent, and varied by 5.5 pMC (ranging from 101.9 to 107.4 pMC). Variations in the 13C values used to correct for isotopic fractionation did not account for the variability observed in the pMC values for this sample. In view of the homogeneity of the bioethanol and its inherent simplicity in composition, this suggests that volatile liquid fuels may be more difficult to prepare for analysis without incurring significant sample processing errors. When viewing all of the results as a whole, the analytical errors (incorporating both instrumental and sample processing errors) appeared to be more random than systematic in nature. Because of analytical uncertainties in pMC measurements, as well as inherent local and regional variations in 14C activity levels known to occur in modern-day biomass, there is not a precise (accurate to 2 decimal places) correction factor for negating the bomb carbon effect that is applicable to all biofuels or other biobased products being analyzed in accordance with ASTM Method D6866. Therefore, a reasonable correction factor (currently set at 0.95) needs to be consistently applied in order to make comparisons of biobased content data from different laboratories more valid. Results from this study indicate that, for samples containing predominantly modern carbon, reporting results to the nearest 0.1 pMC is not warranted.
  • High-Precision Radiocarbon Measurements of Tree-Ring Dated Wood from New Zealand: 195 BC–AD 995

    Hogg, Alan; Palmer, Jonathan; Boswijk, Gretel; Turney, Chris (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-09-16)
    The best means for correcting Southern Hemisphere (SH) radiocarbon measurements, which are significantly influenced by temporal variations in the interhemispheric offset, is by the construction of a SH-specific calibration curve from dendrochronologically dated wood. We present here decadal 14C measurements on dendrochronologically secure New Zealand kauri (Agathis australis), covering the period 195 BC–AD 995, extending the range of calibration measurements from New Zealand tree rings to more than 2 millennia.Recently published Tasmanian huon pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii) data for the interval 165 BC to AD 1095 measured at the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (CAMS) have underestimated standard errors, which need to be re-assessed before the data can be considered for a Southern Hemisphere calibration curve update. The CAMS huon data, unlike the Waikato kauri data presented here, show a significant reduction in the SH offset for the interval AD 775–855. Although these data points are being checked, it is unlikely this represents a temporal geographic location-dependent offset. With re-assessed errors, the huon data set from 165 BC to AD 995 closely matches the new kauri data, with the combined data sets producing a mean interhemispheric offset with IntCal09 of 44 +/- 17 yr for the time interval 195 BC–AD 1845. This SH offset is lower than the modeled offset of 55–58 yr used in the construction of SHCal04, and we recommend the lower value be used in future SHCal updates. Although there is an apparent increase in higher frequency events in the SH offset (NZ kauri plus Tasmanian huon) from 200 BC–AD 1000, the reason for this remains unclear.
  • Erratum

    McClure, Mark (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-09-16)

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