• 14C and Other Parameters During the Younger Dryas Cold Phase

      Oeschger, Hans; Welten, Max; Eicher, Ulrich; Möll, Markus; Riesen, Trudi; Siegenthaler, Ulrich; Wegmüller, Samuel (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      Pollen analysis as well as 18O/16O results on lake marl show that the Younger Dryas climatic period, between about 11,000 and 10,300 BP, was the last vigorous cold phase of the Wurm Glacial. Detailed 14C analyses from a peat bog near Wachseldorn (Switzerland) point to a 14C anomaly in this period. Further indication of a 14C anomaly is given by the observation that, during the Younger Dryas period, the sedimentation rates in several lakes apparently were higher than in adjacent periods; an explanation might be that the 14C time scale was compressed between 11,000 and 10,000 BP, ie, the atmospheric 14C/C ratio varied. If real, this suggested 14C variation would probably be connected to the climatic events during this transition period from Later Glacial to Postglacial.
    • 14C in Extractives from Wood

      Olsson, I. U. (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      Two Pinus aristata samples submitted by C W Ferguson were separated in different fractions, as was done earlier with Pinus silvestris L from Sweden, to yield different fractions for studies of the pretreatment. One sample in this new series consisted of heartwood and the second of sapwood. The treatment performed in the radiocarbon laboratory involved an acid treatment by boiling, washings, an hydroxide treatment at 80 degrees C, washings and, finally, another acid treatment before being dried before the combustion. The sodiumhydroxide treatment was repeated to yield at least two soluble and two insoluble fractions. The treatment performed by the wood chemists involved extractions with ethanolbenzene and water. The remaining wood was dated but was also used for the production of holocellulose. The extractives were partitioned between ethyl ether and water and that from the older wood was used for the isolation of neutrals, acids, and phenols. In all, 19 fractions of these two wood samples were dated. It is confirmed that a treatment for 30 min in sodium hydroxide at 80 degrees C is not sufficient to remove the extractives from the heartwood or the sapwood. A treatment at 80 degrees C overnight with 1 percent NaOH yielded a sample from the older wood with a 14C content in good agreement with the results predicted from the curve presented by Stuiver (1978). The final statistical uncertainty in the present investigation was ca 4 per mil. The younger wood yielded results indicating a lower activity than that given by Stuiver.
    • 14C Variations Caused by Changes in the Global Carbon Cycle

      Siegenthaler, Ulrich; Heimann, Martin; Oeschger, Hans (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      A box-diffusion model for the carbon cycle is used to estimate the magnitude of 14C variations caused by changes of reservoir sizes and exchange fluxes in the global carbon system. The influence of changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration, biomass, CO2 exchange rate between atmosphere and ocean, and ocean mixing is considered. Steady-state 14C concentrations as well as the transients are calculated. For changing biomass, atmospheric CO2 levels and 13C/12C ratios are also calculated. Carbon-cycle-induced 14C variations may have been significant in the transition period from Glacial to Postglacial when drastic changes in environmental conditions took place within short time periods, while they were probably less important during the climatically more stable Postglacial. Changes of the oceanic circulation, as supposedly occurred, are considered the most important factor, besides variations of the production rate, affecting the global distribution of 14C. 14C variations due to changes of the atmospheric CO2 level or the air-sea exchange probably did not exceed one to a few percent. Fluctuations of the forest biomass, which may have occurred between Glacial and Postglacial, hardly affected the 14C concentration over a long term. Responses of the atmospheric 14C concentration are also calculated for variations of the 14C production rate by cosmic radiation. The following cases are considered: a step change, square-wave changes producing "wiggles", and sinusoidal variations.
    • A Multi-Counter System for High Precision Carbon-14 Measurements

      Schoch, Hildegard; Bruns, Michael; Münnich, Karl Otto; Münnich, Marianne (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      A new 14C detector system containing nine, independently working, CO2 proportional counters is described. The system is designed for a sufficient measuring capacity at a precision level better than sigma = +/- 2 per mil, which requires a counting time of about one week per sample. The size of the installation requires a simple and economic design of counters and electronics. A single anticoincidence shield for all counters consists of five newly developed flat counters. The modern counting rate (52 cpm) is sensitively checked by running Heidelberg sodium carbonate standard samples wth a counting rate of about 10 times modern. A microcomputer (DEC PDP-11/03) is used for data acquisition. Recent developments in laboratory techniques (preparation and gaschromatographic purification of samples) are also reported.
    • A Possible Source of Error in 14C Dates: Volcanic Emanations (Examples from the Monte Amiata District, Provinces of Grosseto and Sienna, Italy)

      Saupé, Francois; Strappa, Osvaldo; Coppens, René; Guillet, Bernard; Jaegy, Robert (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      Wood from regular timbering of a shallow seated mine in Tuscany gave 14C ages of 5730 +/- 100 years BP, much too old to be attributed to one of the known civilizations of Italy. This mine is located in a region of declining volcanic activity, noticeable especially through numerous emanations (natural or incidentally induced by drillings). It was suspected that the analyzed wood had grown in an environment where the normal atmosphere had been diluted by volcanic emanations. To check this hypothesis, living plants (trees, bushes and reeds) and volcanic emanations have been sampled and their 14C content measured. All present day plants are depleted in 14C, giving a fictitious age different from 0 (1805, 1820, 2540, 4350 years BP). Of the gaseous emanations sampled, two have a high pressure and show virtually no 14C (>41,000 years BP). Two others have a pressure close to atmospheric, and small amounts of 14C were introduced by atmospheric contamination (22,570 and 30,580 years BP). Conclusion: plants grown in the vicinity of volcanic emanations have 14C activities that are too low because of a natural 14C dilution and yield anomalously high ages. The delta-13C values obtained for two of these plants (-27.4 per mil and -23.7 per mil) are close to the average for plants in general (-25 per mil), whereas the CO2 of mofettes is heavier than atmospheric CO2.
    • Accuracy of the Radiocarbon Time-Scale Beyond 15,000 BP

      Vogel, J. C. (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      Ionium dates for the Upper Lisan Formation in the Dead Sea valley average (10 +/- 3) percent higher than a set of radiocarbon dates from the same profiles. No analytical explanation can be found so that the discrepancy may be real for the period 15,000 BP to 35,000 BP (conventional radiocarbon years). This would have implications for the chronology of the Upper Pleistocene.
    • An Analysis of Shielding Efficiency for 14C Counters

      Nydal, Reidar; Gulliksen, Steinar; Lövseth, Knut (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      The "shielding" efficiency of the guard counters has been a main scope of the present investigation. Our special guard counters consist of closed shells (ca 3cm thick) filled with propane at 1.2 atmospheres pressure. These guard counters are nearly 100 percent efficient against charged particles, and 1 to 2 percent against gamma and neutrons. The efficiency has now been studied more in detail in an arrangement with four guard shells around a 14C counter. For each extra guard shell, the cosmic fraction of the counter background was reduced by ca 13 percent. The reduction does not involve penetrating high energy charged particles, but is related to ray showers penetrating the guards. A thicker old lead shield between 14C counter and the guard counters also reduces the background and serves the same purpose. In order to approach underground conditions for the 1.5 liter counter background (0.32 +/- 0.01 c/min), most of the shielding material has to be put inside guard shells. An ordinary guard counter combined with an extra guard on top of the iron shield is very efficient. A background of 0.48 +/- 0.01 c/min has already been obtained.
    • Applications of Resonance Ionization Spectroscopy to Ultralow-Level Counting and Mass Spectroscopy

      Kramer, S. D.; Hurst, G. S.; Young, J. P.; Payne, M. G.; Kopp, M. K.; Callcott, T. A.; Arakawa, E. T.; Beekman, D. W. (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      In this paper it is shown that the ability to directly detect a daughter atom, using resonance ionization spectroscopy, in delayed time coincidence with the decay of a parent species promises to drastically reduce the background in low-level counting experiments. In addition, resonance ionization can also be used as an ion source for a mass spectrometer system that is capable of discriminating between isobars.
    • Comparison of 14C Dates and Other Age Estimations Between 2000 BC and AD 1000

      Willkomm, Horst (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      The 14C age of charcoal and wood from Lebanon and central Europe is compared partly with the dendrochronologically determined age of the samples and partly with the archaeologically expected value. While the dendrologic values approximately confirm the correction curve of Ralph, Michael, and Han (1973), charcoal of burned layers seemes to be generally 2 to 3 centuries older than expected from contemporary archaeologically retrieved materials.
    • Computer-Matched Radiocarbon Dates of Floating Tree-Ring Series

      Kruse, H. H.; Linick, T. W.; Suess, H. E.; Becker, Bernd (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      The absolute time of growth of a floating tree-ring series is determined by computer, by first fitting a curve to the 14C ages of tree-ring dated wood and then by matching the 14C ages of the floating tree-ring series to that curve. The results obtained by this matching procedure are given here for five floating European oak chronologies for which 14C dates have been published previously by Suess (1978). Three of these five floating series have been linked together dendrochronologically. There now remain three floating series covering a 4000-year time span from 4820 BC to 830 BC. Their 14C dates, matched by computer to the bristlecone pine chronology, provide a possibility of obtaining precise ages of oak wood series from Neolithic sites in Switzerland and South Germany by dendrochronologically cross-dating with the calibrated master chronologies.
    • Conditions Involved in Dating Terrestrial Shells

      Evin, Jacques; Marechal, Joelle; Pachiaudi, Christiane; Puissegur, J. J. (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      Mollusks living only on ground surface can be expected to give the most reliable results in 14C dating from carbonates of continental origin. One may assume they have a homogeneous biotope and are not affected by any hard-water effect. In order to verify these assumptions and to test shells as routine dating material, results from terrestrial gastropods are compared with other 14C dates from classic biologic material, such as peat, charcoal, or bone, collected in the same archaeologic or geologic levels in miscellaneous places. Two sites were selected for which other chronologic data, such as prehistoric industries or malacologic diagrams were available. All results indicate older values for 14C shell dates. The discrepancy between "normal" and snail dates amounts to 300 to 1200 14C years and remains the same whatever the absolute age of the sample. All 13C values of perfectly cleaned shells are between -5 to -10 per mil versus PDB. The initial 14C content of shells that is too low may be different according to species, as suggested by 13C variations. Although fairly constant, this deviation of 14C ages generally makes such samples unreliable for most archaeologic studies, which often need more precise results. However, some measurements were performed on microfauna shells from several Wurmian loess to show that dating of shells may be useful in fairly ancient geologic sediments for lack of better carbonaceous samples. Good agreement of some snail dates with expected sediment ages point to the importance of proper sample selection and pretreatment that might be checked by 13C measurements.
    • Contemporary 14C Levels and Their Significance to Sedimentary History of Bega Swamp, New South Wales

      Polach, H. A.; Singh, Gurdip (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      Atmospheric 14C variations in nature, as previously documented for the Southern Hemisphere by studies carried out in South Africa and New Zealand, were supplemented by 14C concentration measurements of wheat-grain samples collected in southeastern New South Wales. Our measurements cover the critical period of 1945/46 up to 1956/57, and span the transition of Suess and atom-bomb effects. The observed variations can be followed quite precisely in the peat deposits of the Bega Swamp, New South Wales, and indicate that vertical mixing of organic components within the peat is negligible. Pollen analytical data covering the last 400 years also show that the peats act as efficient traps; thus, time-precise zonations can be identified, and historically documented man-induced changes in pollen assemblages can be correlated with 14C ages in recent times.
    • Enrichment of 14C and Sample Preparation for Beta and Ion Counting

      Grootes, P. Al; Stuiver, Minze; Farwell, G. W.; Schaad, T. P.; Schmidt, F. H. (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      We here report on two technical research projects of the Quaternary Isotope Laboratory (QL) vis, (1) the use of thermal diffusion isotopic enrichment to extend the technical range of 14C dating, (2) the preparation of samples for ion counting using a Van de Graaff tandem accelerator. The second project is carried out in cooperation with, and partly at, the Nuclear Physics Laboratory. A gain in dating range of 3 to 4 half-lives can routinely be obtained with the QL and the Groningen enrichment systems. The same gain in age range can be obtained for ion counting with a simplified system that requires only 0.5 to 2g of carbon and 3 to 7 days enrichment time. A method to convert CO2 quantitatively via CO into carbon is described. For short intervals the carbon deposit yields good 12C beams. We also give a different procedure to make graphite-like carbon samples. The preparation of beryllium metal samples is given last.
    • Experimental and Theoretical Data on Radiocarbon Variation in the Earth's Atmosphere in the Past

      Dergachev, V. A. (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      Some questions in the study of cosmic ray intensity (solar magnetic field, irregular solar activity, 14CO2 and 14CO in radiocarbon models, etc) on the basis of 14C concentration in the earth's atmosphere are considered.
    • Foreword

      Stuiver, Minze (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
    • Further Developments in On-Line Computing and Radiocarbon Dating at the British Museum

      Hewson, A. D.; Hall, J. A. (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      In November 1973 the British Museum Research Laboratory acquired a Hewlett Packard 2100A mini-computer for the storage, calculation and retrieval of scientific measurements made on museum objects. A part of the computer's work is the calculation of radiocarbon dates based on the liquid scintillation counting of 14C activities. A system of programs and files has been developed and has been in daily use since August 1974 (Hall and Hewson, 1977). This paper describes changes and improvements to the system to make it more flexible so that it now provides the full range of facilities required by an active 14C laboratory. The reporting procedures in particular have been restructured in the light of experience. The paper will be of interest to all laboratories that have, or hope to have, access to similar minior micro-computers.
    • Geomagnetic Strength Over the Last 50,000 Years and Changes in Atmospheric 14C Concentration: Emerging Trends

      Barbetti, Mike (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      Palaeomagnetic field strength measurements for the last 50,000 years are summarized. The period before 12,000 yr bp** is characterized by low dipole moments, but high values are associated with the Lake Mungo polarity excursion between ~32,000 and 28,000 yr bp. The variation since 12,000 yr bp, based on new results from Australia and published data from the Northern Hemisphere has a quasi-cyclic appearance with maxima at ~10,000 and ~3500 yr bp. The geomagnetic record is used to predict variations in atmospheric 14C concentration, and the results are compared with independent comparisons between 14C and other dating methods. Long-term variations in the 14C time-scale are readily explained by known geomagnetic changes.
    • High Precision Radiocarbon Dating by Liquid. Scintillation Counting Applied to Radiocarbon Timescale Calibration

      Pearson, G. W. (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      The precision quoted on a radiocarbon date is often misleading. Improvement in the accuracy of measurement is discussed together with the use of appropriate precisions. The effect of high accuracy in 14C dating and meaningful precisions are illustrated and applied to radiocarbon time-scale calibration. Intercomparison of such calibrations reveals a significant continuous saw-tooth pattern of short-term periodicity.
    • Information on the CO2 Cycle from Ice Core Studies

      Berner, Werner; Oeschger, Hans; Stauffer, Bernhard (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      Information on the history of the atmospheric CO2 content and the 12C /12 and 14C/C ratios is recorded in natural ice. Measurements on samples from very cold accumulation regions show that CO2 is occluded not only in air bubbles, but also in the ice lattice. The two CO2 components are of similar size. It is very difficult to measure CO2 in the bubbles and CO2 in the ice lattice separately. By melting the samples and extracting the evolving gases in two fractions, it is possible to estimate CO2 concentration in the bubbles and the ice lattice. Enrichment or depletion of CO2 in the bubbles by exchange with the ice is difficult to estimate. Information about this effect is expected from 12C /C analysis on the extracted CO2 fractions. To investigate whether atmospheric CO2 content was different during the last glaciation than during the present one, sets of 16 and 20 samples distributed over the last 40,000 years from the two deep ice cores from Camp Century (North Greenland) and Byrd Station (West Antarctica) were measured. The time scales for the two cores are based on a rheological model. Results and conclusions are: — The data series from both cores show similar trends correlated to a certain degre to the delta-18O profiles. — For both cores, the values for the CO2 concentration of the first fraction, considered to best represent the atmospheric composition, show lower values during glaciation than in the Holocene, with a minimum before the end of glaciation. — For both cores, the values for the CO2 concentration of the first fraction, considered to best represent the atmospheric composition, show lower values during glaciation than in the Holocene, with a minimum before the end of glaciation.