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Dating Paleosol and Animal Remains in Loess Deposits

  • H C Zhang (a1), B Li (a1), M S Yang (a1), G L Lei (a1), H Ding (a2), Jie Niu (a1), H F Fan (a1), W X Zhang (a1) and F Q Chang (a1)...


Accurate and reliable dating of paleosols, animal remains, and artifacts is of crucial importance in reconstructing environmental change and understanding the interrelationship between human activities and natural environments. Dating different materials in the same sample can help resolve problems such as soil carbon sources and carbon storage state. Conventional radiocarbon dating of soil (inorganic and organic matter) and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating of animal remains (fossil bones and teeth) result in different ages for materials from the same sample position in a typical loess section at Xinglong Mountain, Yuzhong County, Gansu Province in NW China. Inorganic matter is ∼3400 yr older than organic matter, 4175 ± 175 cal BP to 3808 ± 90 cal BP. A 1610-yr difference between the 14C ages of fossils (animal bones and teeth) and soil organic matter suggests that a depositional hiatus exists in the studied profile. The varying 14C ages of fossils and soil organic and inorganic matter have important implications for paleoclimate reconstructions from loess sections. It is critical to consider the meaning of the variable 14C ages from different material components from the same sample position in terms of soil organic and inorganic carbon storage, vegetation history reconstruction, archaeology, and the study of ancient civilizations.

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