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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Recent Submissions

  • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • Editorial Board

    McClure, Mark (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
  • Chronological Development of the Tripolye Culture Giant-Settlement of Talianki (Ukraine): 14C Dating vs. Pottery Typology

    Rassamakin, Yuri; Menotti, Francesco (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
    The long tradition of relative chronology based on pottery typology has often hindered the development of radiocarbon dating amongst the Tripolye giant-settlement in Ukraine. Although it is fairly reliable, relative chronology encounters insurmountable obstacles in identifying internal phases of development within a single settlement. This paper presents the first attempt to use 14C dates to monitor the chronological development of the Talianki giant-settlement, from its formation to the various phases of development and the final decline. It then goes one step further by proving genetic links between 2 neighboring settlements, confirming that one is the result of migration processes of the other. This study does not intend to prove that one of the dating techniques is better than the other, but to demonstrate that a synergetic combination of the 2 methods will certainly lead to more reliable results.
  • Are the Fractionation Corrections Correct: Are the Isotopic Shifts for 14C/12C Ratios in Physical Processes and Chemical Reactions Really Twice Those for 13C/12C?

    Southon, John (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
    Conventional radiocarbon calculations correct for isotopic fractionation using an assumed value of 2.0 for the fractionation of 14C relative to 13C. In other words, isotopic discrimination in physical and chemical processes is assumed to cause relative shifts in 14C/12C ratios that are exactly double those of 13C/12C. This paper analyzes a 1984 experiment that produced a value for the fractionation ratio in photosynthesis of 2.3, which is used to this day by some researchers in the fields of hydrology and speleothem geochemistry. While the value of 2.3 is almost certainly incorrect, theoretical work suggests that the true value may indeed deviate from 2.0, which would have significant implications for 14C calculations.
  • Assessing the Effect of Sterilization on the Radiocarbon Signature of Freshwater Dissolved Organic Carbon

    Baker, Andy; Gulliver, Pauline; Ascough, Philippa; Roe, Jessie; Bridgeman, John (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
    Radiocarbon analysis of freshwater dissolved organic carbon (DOC) involves substantial sample pretreatment, including an initial rotary evaporation stage necessary to concentrate large volumes of freshwater sample. This may lead to a health risk from the exposure to pathogens, and there is the additional concern that the warm conditions during the rotary evaporation stage may provide ideal growing conditions for some pathogens. To remove any pathogen risk in water samples, boiling or autoclaving can be undertaken. However, to date, no studies have been undertaken to investigate whether boiling will alter the 14C signature of dissolved organic carbon. Here, we analyze the effect of sterilization on 9 contrasting river water samples. Comparing filtered, filtered and boiled, and filtered and sterilized dissolved organic matter, we observe that both boiling and autoclaving increases the uncertainty associated with the 14C and 13C of DOC, that the 14C and 13C changes are not unidirectional, and that they are not related to original DOC composition. Neither sterilization method is recommended unless essential, in which instance we recommend a 3 uncertainty on 14C and that the 13C is not considered representative of the original sample.
  • Anomalous Radiocarbon Ages Found in Campanian Ignimbrite Deposit of the Mediterranean Deep-Sea Core CT85-5

    Hajdas, Irka; Taricco, Carla; Bonani, Georges; Beer, Jürg; Bernasconi, Stefano M.; Wacker, Lukas (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
    A detailed radiocarbon chronology has been established for the deep-sea core CT85-5 from the Tyrrhenian Sea. This chronology, which is based on the analysis of foraminifera shells, shows a set of reversed 14C ages for sediments deposited during the eruption of the Campanian Ignimbrite (~40 ka cal BP). The anomalous young 14C ages coincide with elevated concentrations of 10Be measured in the same core. Although reversals in 14C ages have been previously found in other records at 40 ka cal BP, such extreme changes have not been observed elsewhere. The enhancement in 14C concentration in CT85-5 sediments associated with the Campanian Ignimbrite is equivalent to an apparent age ~15 ka younger than the age for the sediments deposited shortly before the eruption. Here, we present consistent results of repeated measurements showing no analytical problems that can explain the observed rapid changes in 14C of this particular record.
  • AMS 14C Dating of Balearic Lime Burials

    Van Strydonck, Mark; Boudin, Mathieu; Decq, Louise; Van Den Brande, Tess; Borms, Herlinde; Ramis, Damià; De Mulder, Guy (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
    The Balearic quicklime burials of the Iron Age have been radiocarbon dated. Because the bones found are unsuitable for dating, lime was dated using the titration method, with results indicating that in some samples there is still fossil limestone carbonate present, while other samples suffered from recarbonation. Nevertheless, 14C dates on lime and organic matter agree when both are present. The titration method allows calculating a consensus value.
  • 14C Calibration Curves for Modern Plant Material from Tropical Regions of South America

    Ehleringer, James R.; Casale, John F.; Barnette, Janet E.; Xu, Xiaomei; Lott, Michael J.; Hurley, Janet (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
    Two 14C calibration curves have been produced that allow determination of the statistical average age of coca leaf and cocaine base specimens produced for the time period 19792009. These calibration curves are based on field collections of specimens in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The coca leaf F14C and 14C calibration curves can be used to predict the ages of botanical tissues collected in tropical South America and possibly extended to other tropical locations. The cocaine F14C and 14C calibration curves can be used to predict the ages of seized cocaine specimens. Because the 14C of the atmosphere is diminishing, the precision of this approach for age determinations will continue to get less precise over time as atmospheric 14C content continues to decline.