Testing the use of bomb radiocarbon to date the surface layers of blanket peat

Garnett, M.H. and Stevenson, A.C. (2004) Testing the use of bomb radiocarbon to date the surface layers of blanket peat. Radiocarbon, 46(2), pp. 841-851.



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The recently formed surface layers of peatlands are archives of past environmental conditions and can have a temporal resolution considerably greater than deeper layers. The low density and conditions of fluctuating water table have hindered attempts to construct chronologies for these peats. We tested the use of the radiocarbon bomb pulse to date recently accumulated peat in a blanket mire. The site was chosen because the peat profiles contained independent chronological markers in the form of charcoal-rich layers produced from known burning events. We compared chronologies derived from accelerator mass spectrometry C-14 analysis of plant macrofossils against these chronological markers. The bomb C-14-derived chronologies were in broad agreement with the charcoal dating evidence. However, there were uncertainties in the final interpretation of the C- 14 results because the pattern of C-14 concentration in the peat profiles did not follow closely the known atmospheric C-14 record. Furthermore, samples of different macrofossil materials from the same depth contained considerable differences in C-14. Suggested explanations for the observed results include the following: i) minor disturbance at the site, ii) in-situ contamination of the C-14 samples by carbonaceous soot, and iii) differential incorporation of plant material during blanket peat growth.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Garnett, Dr Mark
Authors: Garnett, M.H., and Stevenson, A.C.
Subjects:C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Radiocarbon
Publisher:University of Arizona
Copyright Holders:© 2004 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona
First Published:First published in Radiocarbon 46(2):841-851
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the Publisher.

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