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

  • Radiocarbon, Volume 44, Number 1 (2002)

    Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01
  • From the Editor

    Jull, A. J. Timothy (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
  • Editorial Board

    Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01
  • WOCE Radiocarbon IV: Pacific Ocean Results; P10, P13N, P14C, P18, P19 & S4P

    Key, Robert M.; Quay, Paul D.; Schlosser, Peter; McNichol, A. P.; von Reden, K. F.; Schneider, Robert J.; Elder, Kathy L.; Stuiver, Minze; Östlund, H. Göte (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    The World Ocean Circulation Experiment, carried out between 1990 and 1997, provided the most comprehensive oceanic study of radiocarbon to date. Approximately 10,000 samples were collected in the Pacific Ocean by U.S. Investigators for both conventional large volume B counting and small volume accelerator mass spectrometry analysis techniques. Results from six cruises are presented. The data quality is as good or better than previous large-scale surveys. The 14C distribution for the entire WOCE Pacific data set is graphically described using mean vertical profiles and sections, and property-property plots.
  • Why Early-Historical Radiocarbon Dates Downwind from the Mediterranean are Too Early

    Keenan, Douglas J. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    Several authors have claimed that radiocarbon dates in the Ancient Near East are too early. Herein, a hypothesis that might explain this is presented. Marine degassing of "old" carbon (i.e. 14C-deficient C), induced by upwelling of old subsurface water, has been observed, n modern times, to cause century-scale 14C ages in the surface atmosphere. A review of the Mediterranean Sea post-ice-age circulation concludes that the subsurface waters became very old, primarily due to millennia-long stagnation. It is hypothesized that as the stagnation ended, subsurface waters were brought towards the surface, where they degassed old carbon. Additionally, Anatolian dendrochronology is shown to not contradict the hypothesis.
  • The Use of Raman Spectroscopy to Monitor the Removal of Humic Substances from Charcoal: Quality Control for 14C Dating of Charcoal

    Alon, Dani; Mintz, Genia; Cohen, Illit; Weiner, Steve; Boaretto, Elisabetta (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    One of the largest sources of uncertainty in radiocarbon dating stems from the sample pretreatment procedures used to minimize contamination. A major source of carbon contamination in charcoal from archaeological sites is humic substances carried by groundwater. Here we present a method, independent of 14C dating itself, to evaluate the effectiveness of the cleaning procedure of charcoal. Raman spectra of mixtures of humic substances (HS) and laboratory prepared charcoal indicate that Raman spectroscopy can be used as a semi-quantitative measure of the amount of humic substances associated with archaeological charcoal. Raman spectral analysis of archaeological charcoal samples subjected to different cleaning regimes supports this contention. Such measurements can provide quality control for charcoal preparation procedures and may assist in the interpretation of carbon-dating results.
  • Soil Organic Matter Decomposition and Turnover in a Tropical Ultisol: Evidence from delta-13C, delta-15N and Geochemistry

    Krull, Evelyn S.; Bestland, Erick A.; Gates, Will P. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    Soil organic matter (SOM), leaf litter, and root material of an Ultisol from the tropical rainforest of Kakamega, Kenya, were analyzed for stable carbon (delta-13C) and nitrogen (delta-15N) isotopic values as well as total organic carbon (TOC) and total nitrogen (TN) contents in order to determine trends in SOM decomposition within a very well-developed soil under tropical conditions. In addition, we quantified mineralogy and chemistry of the inorganic soil fraction. Clay mineralogical variation with depth was small and the abundance of kaolin indicates intense weathering and pedoturbation under humid tropical conditions. The soil chemistry was dominated by silica, aluminium, and iron with calcium, potassium, and magnesium as minor constituents. The relative depletion of base cations compared with silica and aluminium is an indicator for intense weathering and leaching conditions over long periods of time. Depth profiles of delta-13C and delta-15N showed a distinct enrichment trend down profile with a large (average 13Delta-C = 5.0 per mil average 15Delta-N = 6.3 per mil) and abrupt offset within the uppermost 10-20 cm of the soil. Isotopic enrichment with depth is commonly observed in soil profiles and has been attributed to fractionation during decomposition. However, isotopic offsets within soil profiles that exceed 3 per mil are usually interpreted as a recent change from C4 to C3 dominated vegetation. We argue that the observed isotopic depth profiles along with data from mineralogy and chemistry of the inorganic fraction from the Kakamega Forest soil are a result of intense weathering and high organic matter turnover rates under humid tropical conditions.
  • Reservoir Corrections for Marine Samples from the South Atlantic Coast, Santa Catarina State, Brazil

    Eastoe, C. J.; Fish, S.; Fish, P.; Gaspar, M. Dulce; Long, A. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    Coeval shell and charcoal from Santa Catarina State, Brazil, differ systematically in 14C content, indicating a reservoir effect in marine samples. For modern samples (AD 1939-2000) and archeological samples (2500-1595 BP), the mean 14C age difference between marine and atmospheric carbon is 220 +/20 years, the marine carbon being older. For three samples dated AD 1939-1944, a distinct reservoir correction of 510 +/10 years is also observed. The ages of archeological shell samples from Jabuticabeira may be corrected by subtracting 220 years from the apparent 14C ages.
  • Radiocarbon Dating of Buried Holocene Soils in Siberia

    Orlova, Lyubov A.; Zykina, Valentina S. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    We have constructed a detailed chronological description of soil formation and its environments with data obtained on radiocarbon ages, palynology, and pedology of the Holocene buried soils in the forest steppe of western and central Siberia. We studied a number of Holocene sections, which were located in different geomorphic situations. Radiocarbon dating of materials from several soil horizons, including soil organic matter (SOM), wood, peat, charcoal, and carbonates, revealed three climatic periods and five stages of soil formation in the second part of the Holocene. 14C ages of approximately 6355 BP, 6020 BP, and 5930 BP showed that the longest and most active stage is associated with the Holocene Climatic Optimum, when dark-grey soils were formed in the forest environment. The conditions of birch forest steppe favored formation of chernozem and associated meadow-chernozem and meadow soils. Subboreal time includes two stages of soil formation corresponding to lake regressions, which were less intense than those of the Holocene Optimum. The soils of that time are chernozem, grassland-chernozem, and saline types, interbedded with thin peat layers 14C dated to around 4555 BP, 4240 BP and 3480 BP, and 3170 BP. Subatlantic time includes two poorly developed hydromorphic paleosols formed within inshore parts of lakes and chernozem-type automorphic paleosol. The older horizon was formed during approximately 2500-1770 BP, and the younger one during approximately 1640-400 BP. The buried soils of the Subatlantic time period also attest to short episodes of lake regression. The climate changes show an evident trend: in the second part of the Atlantic time period it was warmer and drier than at present, and in the Subboreal and Subatlantic time periods the climate was cool and humid.
  • Radiocarbon and Stable Isotope Analyses of Archaeological Bone Consolidated with Hide Glue

    Takahashi, C. M.; Nelson, D. E.; Southon, J. S. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    We tested a simple method for removing a collagen-based glue preservative from bone destined for radiocarbon and stable isotope analyses. The method is sufficient for bone samples from which only stable isotope measurements are required. For 14C dating, such samples of age less than about 10 ka can be adequately dated, but for older samples, the circumstances must be carefully evaluated.
  • Novel Statistical Model for a Piece-Wise Linear Radiocarbon Calibration Curve

    Gómez Portugal Aguilar, Delil; Litton, Cliff D.; O'Hagan, Anthony (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    The process of calibrating radiocarbon determinations onto the calendar scale requires the setting of a specific statistical model for the calibration curve. This model specification will bear fundamental importance for the resulting inference regarding the parameter of interest—namely, in general, the calendar age associated to the sample that has been 14C-dated. Traditionally, the 14C calibration curve has been modelled simply as the piece-wise linear curve joining the (internationally agreed) high-precision calibration data points; or, less frequently, by proposing spline functions in order to obtain a smoother curve. We present a model for the 14C calibration curve which, based on specific characteristics of the dating method, yields a piece-wise linear curve, but one which rather than interpolating the data points, smooths them. We show that with this specific model if a piece-wise linear curve is desired, an underlying random walk model is implied as covariance structure (and vice versa). Furthermore, by making use of all the information provided by the calibration data in a comprehensive way, we achieve an improvement over current models by getting more realistic variance values for the calibration curve.
  • Marine Reservoir Corrections for the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia

    Southon, John; Kashgarian, Michaele; Fontugne, Michel; Metivier, Bernard; Yim, Wyss W-S. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    We have measured radiocarbon in prebomb known-age shells and coral from the Indian Ocean and southeast Asia to determine marine reservoir age corrections. Western Indian Ocean results show a strong 14C depletion due to upwelling in the Arabian Sea, and indicate that this signal is advected over a wide area to the east and south. In contrast, the surface waters of the South China Sea contain relatively high levels of 14C, due in part to the input of well-equilibrated water masses from the western Pacific. The easternmost regions of the Indian Ocean are also strongly influenced by the flowthrough of Pacific waters north of Australia.
  • Marine Radiocarbon Reservoir Corrections for the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas

    Reimer, P. J.; McCormac, F. G. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    Radiocarbon measurements of nine known age shells from the Mediterranean and the Aegean Seas combined with previous measurements provide an updated value for Delta-R, the local variation in the reservior correction for marine samples. Comparison of pre-1950s samples from the Algerian coast, with one collected in 1954, indicates early incorporations of nuclear weapons testing 14C into the shallow surface waters of the Mediterranean. Comparisons between different basins indicate the surface waters of the Mediterranean are relatively homogenous. The recommended Delta-R for calibration of the Mediterranean marine samples with the 1998 marine calibration dataset is 58 +/85 14C yr, but variations in the resevoir age beyond 6000 cal BP should be considered.
  • Late Quaternary Chronology and Stratigraphy of Twelve Sites on Kaua'i

    Burney, David A. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    Twelve new sites on Kaua'i provide an island-wide view of late Quaternary (near time) environments on the oldest of the major Hawaiian Islands. Radiocarbon-dated lithologies are compared for estuarine sites on windward and leeward coasts, interior peat bogs ranging from 169 to 1220 m in elevation, prehistoric fishponds, and a sinkhole paleolake in the Maha'ulepu cave system. Terrestrial sedimentation begins in many coastal sites about 6000 cal BP, as sea level approached modern levels. Prehuman sedimentation rates were quite low in all these sites, generally <2 mm/yr, although coastal sites in the late Holocene were subject to major episodic sediment influx from extreme events, including tsunamis, hurricanes, and floods. Interior sites are generally older, having accumulated humic clay and peat layers at least since the late Pleistocene. Since the arrival of humans less than two millennia ago, sedimentation rates have increased in some coastal sites, and further local increases (as much as two orders of magnitude) have occurred since European arrival. Evidence from sites containing fossils of extinct terrestrial snails is consistent with the hypothesis that human-caused extinctions have proceeded in three phases, corresponding to losses (generally the largest species) occurring soon after the arrival of the first humans, followed by a second wave of extinction in late prehistoric times, and a third after European colonization. Dating of sediments from fishponds constructed or enhanced by prehistoric Polynesians suggests that this early form of aquaculture was initiated on Kaua'i by about 830 +/50 BP. The most elaborate example of fishpond construction in the Hawaiian Islands, the Alekoko or Menehune fishpond on Kaua) i's southeast coast, was probably undertaken by 580 +/30 BP.
  • INGEIS Radiocarbon Laboratory Dates IV

    Cordero, Roberto; Lanzelotti, Sonia; Panarello, Héctor (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
  • Differences in 14C Age Between Stratigraphically Associated Charcoal and Marine Shell from the Archaic Period Site of Kilometer 4, Southern Peru: Old Wood or Old Water?

    Kennett, Douglas J.; Ingram, B. Lynn; Southon, John R.; Wise, Karen (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    Consistently large differences occur in the calibrated 14C ages of stratigraphically associated shell and charcoal samples from Kilometer 4, an Archaic Period archaeological site located on the extreme south coast of Peru. A series of nine shell and charcoal samples were collected from a Late Archaic Period (approximately 6000-4000 BP) sector of the site. After calibration, the intercepts of the charcoal dates were approximately 100-750 years older than the paired shell samples. Due to the hyper-arid conditions in this region that promote long-term preservation of organic material, we argue that the older charcoal dates are best explained by people using old wood for fuel during the Middle Holocene. Given this "old wood" problem, marine shell may actually be preferable to wood charcoal for dating archaeological sites in coastal desert environments as in southern Peru and Northern Chile.
  • Determination of the Radiocarbon Age of Parchment of the Vinland Map

    Donahue, D. J.; Olin, J. S.; Harbottle, G. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    The Vinland Map, drawn on a 27.8 x 41.0 cm parchment bifolium, is housed in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. In the northwest Atlantic Ocean, it shows "the Island of Vinland, discovered by Bjarni and Leif in company." Skelton, Marston, and Painter (Skelton et al. 1965, 1995) firmly argued the map's authenticity, associating it with the Council of Basle (AD 1431-1449), that is, half a century before Columbus's voyage. Nevertheless, vigorous scholarly questioning of the map's authenticity has persisted (Washburn 1966; McCrone 1974; Olin and Towe 1976; Cahill et al. 1987; McCrone 1988; Towe 1990). We have determined the precise radiocarbon age of the map's parchment by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). The one-sigma calibrated calendrical date range is AD 1434 +/11 years: the 95% confidence level age range is AD 1411-1468.
  • Coastal Response to Changes in Sea Level since the Last 4500 BP on the East Coast of Tamil Nadu, India

    Achyuthan, Hema; Baker, V. R. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    Geomorphology, clay mineral composition, and radiocarbon dates from Muttukadu to Marakkanam estuaries and the tidal zone along the east coast of Tamil Nadu, India, have been used to reconstruct coastal evolution between approximately 4500 and 1100 BP. Formation of alternate oyster beds with intervening tidal clay units indicate fluctuation in the sea level may be a consequence of changes in the Mid-Holocene sedimentation pattern and coastal configuration. 14C dates from Muttukadu indicate a rapid relative sea-level rise (RSL) subsequent to 3500 BP and tidal flat sedimentation between 3475 and 3145 BP. Marine conditions along the east coast area returned around 1900 BP. Comparison of dates with other sites, e.g. Muttukadu, Mammallapuram, and Marakkanam, points toward short removal of marine conditions, ample sediment supplies in the tidal zones, and neotectonic activity. Reactivation of the north-south trending fault line occurred not earlier than approximately 1050 BP. Our study indicates that Middle to Late Holocene coastal sedimentation and the chronology of the tidal zone formation have been strongly influenced by local factors. These have provided considerable scope for internal reorganization with changing coastal processes.
  • Challenges in Radiocarbon Dating Organic Carbon in Opal-Rich Marine Sediments

    Zheng, Yan; Anderson, Robert F.; Froelich, Philip N.; Beck, Warren; McNichol, Ann P.; Guilderson, Thomas (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    We explored the reliability of radiocarbon ages obtained on organic carbon phases in opal-rich Southern Ocean sediments. Paired biogenic carbonate and total organic carbon (TOC) 14C analyses for three Southern Ocean cores showed that the TOC ages were systematically younger than the carbonate ages. Carbonate ages were consistent with oxygen isotopic and bio-stratigraphy, indicating error in TOC ages that could be explained by 5-24% of modern carbon contamination of TOC samples. Two possible sources of contamination are: 1) adsorption of atmospheric CO2 or volatile organic compounds to reactive opal surface sites, and 2) fixation of atmospheric CO2 by chemosynthetic bacteria during core storage. In an effort to reduce the modern carbon contamination, diatoms were separated from sediments, purified, and pre-oxidized by concentrated nitric and perchloric acids to permit dating of opal-intrinsic organic carbon (approximately 0.1-0.3% by weight). 14C ages of chemically pre-oxidized opal showed a significant amount of modern carbon contamination, from 11 to 32%, indicating adsorption from the atmosphere of modern carbon onto opal surfaces that were previously cleaned by acid oxidation. Several experiments designed to eliminate the modern C contamination were attempted, but so far we have not been able to obtain a radiocarbon age on 14C-dead Southern Ocean opal-rich sediments, either bulk TOC or purified diatom opal samples, as old as our procedural blank.
  • Carbon Dynamics in Vertisols as Revealed by High-Resolution Sampling

    Becker, Heidmann Peter; Andresen, Olaf; Kalmar, Dov; Scharpenseel, Hans Wilhelm; Yaalon, Dan H. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2002-01-01)
    Two Vertisol soil profiles under xeric soil moisture regimes, located at Qedma and Akko, Israel, were investigated and compared to a profile under ustic moisture regime, located in Hyderabad, India. Samples were taken in complete successive 2 cm thin layers down to about 180 cm depth or more. Organic and inorganic carbon were analyzed with regard to 13C and 14C concentrations. While all soils have radiocarbon ages of several thousand years BP, the depth distributions reveal substantial differences between the soil carbon dynamics. 14C and, less pronounced, delta-13C clearly reflect the pedoturbation process. Further, its strength is found to be related to mainly soil moisture regime, then clay content and land use. In one soil, a change of growing from C4 to C3 crops in the past can be concluded from the delta-13C depth distribution.

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