A Possible Source of Error in 14C Dates: Volcanic Emanations (Examples from the Monte Amiata District, Provinces of Grosseto and Sienna, Italy)
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CitationSaupé, F., Strappa, O., Coppens, R., Guillet, B., & Jaegy, R. (1980). A possible source of error in 14C dates: Volcanic emanations (examples from the Monte Amiata district, provinces of Grosseto and Sienna, Italy). Radiocarbon, 22(2), 525-531.
PublisherAmerican Journal of Science
AbstractWood 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.