Estimating marine reservoir effects in archaeological chronologies: Comparing ΔR calculations in Prince Rupert Harbour, British Columbia, Canada

Martindale, A., Cook, G. T. , McKechnie, I., Edinborough, K., Hutchinson, I., Eldridge, M., Supernant, K. and Ames, K. M. (2018) Estimating marine reservoir effects in archaeological chronologies: Comparing ΔR calculations in Prince Rupert Harbour, British Columbia, Canada. American Antiquity, 83(4), pp. 659-680. (doi:10.1017/aaq.2018.47)

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Abstract

The best method for quantifying the marine reservoir effect (MRE) using the global IntCal Marine13 calibration curve remains unresolved. Archaeologists frequently quantify uncertainty on MRE values as errors computed from single pairs of marineterrestrial radiocarbon ages, which we argue significantly overstates their accuracy and precision. Here, we review the assumptions, methods, and applications of estimating MRE via an estimate of the additional regional offset between the marine and terrestrial calibration curves (ΔR) for the Prince Rupert Harbour (PRH) region of British Columbia, Canada.We acknowledge the influence on ΔR of MRE variation as (1) a dynamic oceanographic process, (2) its variable expression in biochemical and geochemical pathways, and (3) compounding errors in sample selection, measurement, and calculation. We examine a large set of marine-terrestrial pairs (n = 63) from PRH to compare a common archaeological practice of estimating uncertainty from means that generate an uncertainty value of ±49 years with a revised, more appropriate estimate of error of ± 230 years. However, we argue that the use of multiple-pair samples estimates the PRH ΔR as 273 ± 38 years for the last 5,000 years. Calculations of error that do not consider these issues may generate more inaccurate age estimates with unjustifiable precision.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cook, Professor Gordon
Authors: Martindale, A., Cook, G. T., McKechnie, I., Edinborough, K., Hutchinson, I., Eldridge, M., Supernant, K., and Ames, K. M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:American Antiquity
Publisher:Society for American Archaeology
ISSN:0002-7316
ISSN (Online):2325-5064
Published Online:16 October 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Society for American Archaeology
Publisher Policy:First published in American Antiquity 83(4):659-580

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