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Challenges in C-14 dating towards the limit of the method inferred from anchoring a floating tree ring radiocarbon chronology to ice core records around the Laschamp geomagnetic field minimum

  • Raimund Muscheler
  • Florian Adolphi
  • Anders Svensson
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 209-215
Publication/Series: Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume: 394
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

The C-14 dating method is the cornerstone for inferring age estimates for natural archives covering the last 50 000 yrs. However, C-14 age calibration for the last ice age relies mostly on records that only indirectly reflect the atmospheric C-14 concentrations. In consequence, calendar age estimates are significantly more uncertain for the period of the last ice age compared to the past 14000 yrs where tree-ring based calibration records exist. Here we connect a C-14 tree-ring chronology from Kauri trees in New Zealand to ice core Be-10 records via the common signal in the galactic cosmic ray flux around the period of the Laschamp geomagnetic field minimum (ca. 41 000 yrs BP). Synchronous changes of modelled C-14 and C-14 inferred from U/Th-dated speleothems support the ice core chronology independently and suggest that the published ice core time scale errors are rather conservative for this period. Our analysis puts C-14 age determinations directly into the context of ice core climate records and it shows that the C-14 records underlying the C-14 calibration curve overestimate the atmospheric C-14 concentration by more than 200 parts per thousand. Consequently, C-14 age calibration presently yields too old calendar age estimates by about 1200 yrs for this period. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Geology
  • C-14 calibration
  • Be-10
  • Laschamp event
  • cosmic rays
  • cosmogenic
  • radionuclides
  • chronology


  • ISSN: 1385-013X
Florian Adolphi
E-mail: florian [dot] adolphi [at] geol [dot] lu [dot] se

Postdoctoral fellow

Quaternary Sciences

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