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Anomalous Radiocarbon Ages from a Holocene Detrital Organic Lens in Alaska and their Implications for Radiocarbon Dating and Paleoenvironmental Reconstructions in the Arctic

  • Robert E. Nelson (a1), L. David Carter (a2) and Stephen W. Robinson (a3)

Abstract

Eleven radiocarbon age determinations clearly show that a lens of Holocene fluvial organic debris on the Alaskan Arctic Coastal Plain contains mostly pre-Holocene organic material. Radio-carbon ages of identified plant macrofossils indicate the material was deposited about 9000 to 9500 yr B.P. Radiocarbon analyses of bulk samples from this deposit, however, range from 13,300 to 30,300 yr B.P. Most of the old organic matter seems to be in the smaller size fractions in the deposit, particularly in the fraction between 0.25 and 0.5 mm, but all size fractions are contaminated. Particular caution must be exercised in submitting bulk samples for radiocarbon dating from areas where conditions favor redeposition of isotopically “dead” carbon.

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