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The IntCal family of radiocarbon (14C) calibration curves is based on research spanning more than three decades. The IntCal group have collated the 14C and calendar age data (mostly derived from primary publications with other types of data and meta-data) and, since 2010, made them available for other sorts of analysis through an open-access database. This has ensured transparency in terms of the data used in the construction of the ratified calibration curves. As the IntCal database expands, work is underway to facilitate best practice for new data submissions, make more of the associated metadata available in a structured form, and help those wishing to process the data with programming languages such as R, Python, and MATLAB. The data and metadata are complex because of the range of different types of archives. A restructured interface, based on the “IntChron” open-access data model, includes tools which allow the data to be plotted and compared without the need for export. The intention is to include complementary information which can be used alongside the main 14C series to provide new insights into the global carbon cycle, as well as facilitating access to the data for other research applications. Overall, this work aims to streamline the generation of new calibration curves.
We present new updates to the calendar and radiocarbon (14C) chronologies for the Cariaco Basin, Venezuela. Calendar ages were generated by tuning abrupt climate shifts in Cariaco Basin sediments to those in speleothems from Hulu Cave. After the original Cariaco-Hulu calendar age model was published, Hulu Cave δ18O records have been augmented with increased temporal resolution and a greater number of U/Th dates. These updated Hulu Cave records provide increased accuracy as well as precision in the final Cariaco calendar age model. The depth scale for the Ocean Drilling Program Site 1002D sediment core, the primary source of samples for 14C dating, has been corrected to account for missing sediment from a core break, eliminating age-depth anomalies that afflicted the earlier calendar age models. Individual 14C dates for the Cariaco Basin remain unchanged from previous papers, although detailed comparisons of the Cariaco calibration dataset to those from Hulu Cave and Lake Suigetsu suggest that the Cariaco marine reservoir age may have shifted systematically during the past. We describe these recent changes to the Cariaco datasets and provide the data in a comprehensive format that will facilitate use by the community.
The concentration of radiocarbon (14C) differs between ocean and atmosphere. Radiocarbon determinations from samples which obtained their 14C in the marine environment therefore need a marine-specific calibration curve and cannot be calibrated directly against the atmospheric-based IntCal20 curve. This paper presents Marine20, an update to the internationally agreed marine radiocarbon age calibration curve that provides a non-polar global-average marine record of radiocarbon from 0–55 cal kBP and serves as a baseline for regional oceanic variation. Marine20 is intended for calibration of marine radiocarbon samples from non-polar regions; it is not suitable for calibration in polar regions where variability in sea ice extent, ocean upwelling and air-sea gas exchange may have caused larger changes to concentrations of marine radiocarbon. The Marine20 curve is based upon 500 simulations with an ocean/atmosphere/biosphere box-model of the global carbon cycle that has been forced by posterior realizations of our Northern Hemispheric atmospheric IntCal20 14C curve and reconstructed changes in CO2 obtained from ice core data. These forcings enable us to incorporate carbon cycle dynamics and temporal changes in the atmospheric 14C level. The box-model simulations of the global-average marine radiocarbon reservoir age are similar to those of a more complex three-dimensional ocean general circulation model. However, simplicity and speed of the box model allow us to use a Monte Carlo approach to rigorously propagate the uncertainty in both the historic concentration of atmospheric 14C and other key parameters of the carbon cycle through to our final Marine20 calibration curve. This robust propagation of uncertainty is fundamental to providing reliable precision for the radiocarbon age calibration of marine based samples. We make a first step towards deconvolving the contributions of different processes to the total uncertainty; discuss the main differences of Marine20 from the previous age calibration curve Marine13; and identify the limitations of our approach together with key areas for further work. The updated values for ΔR, the regional marine radiocarbon reservoir age corrections required to calibrate against Marine20, can be found at the data base http://calib.org/marine/.
Radiocarbon (14C) ages cannot provide absolutely dated chronologies for archaeological or paleoenvironmental studies directly but must be converted to calendar age equivalents using a calibration curve compensating for fluctuations in atmospheric 14C concentration. Although calibration curves are constructed from independently dated archives, they invariably require revision as new data become available and our understanding of the Earth system improves. In this volume the international 14C calibration curves for both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, as well as for the ocean surface layer, have been updated to include a wealth of new data and extended to 55,000 cal BP. Based on tree rings, IntCal20 now extends as a fully atmospheric record to ca. 13,900 cal BP. For the older part of the timescale, IntCal20 comprises statistically integrated evidence from floating tree-ring chronologies, lacustrine and marine sediments, speleothems, and corals. We utilized improved evaluation of the timescales and location variable 14C offsets from the atmosphere (reservoir age, dead carbon fraction) for each dataset. New statistical methods have refined the structure of the calibration curves while maintaining a robust treatment of uncertainties in the 14C ages, the calendar ages and other corrections. The inclusion of modeled marine reservoir ages derived from a three-dimensional ocean circulation model has allowed us to apply more appropriate reservoir corrections to the marine 14C data rather than the previous use of constant regional offsets from the atmosphere. Here we provide an overview of the new and revised datasets and the associated methods used for the construction of the IntCal20 curve and explore potential regional offsets for tree-ring data. We discuss the main differences with respect to the previous calibration curve, IntCal13, and some of the implications for archaeology and geosciences ranging from the recent past to the time of the extinction of the Neanderthals.
A high-resolution multi-proxy study including the elemental and isotopic composition of bulk organic matter, land plant-derived biomarkers, and alkenone-based sea-surface temperature (SST) from a marine sedimentary record obtained from the Jacaf Fjord in northern Chilean Patagonia (∼44°20′S) provided a detailed reconstruction of continental runoff, precipitation, and summer SST spanning the last 1750 yr. We observed two different regimes of climate variability in our record: a relatively dry/warm period before 900 cal yr BP (lower runoff and average SST 1°C warmer than present day) and a wet/cold period after 750 cal yr BP (higher runoff and average SST 1°C colder than present day). Relatively colder SSTs were found during 750–600 and 450–250 cal yr BP, where the latter period roughly corresponds to the interval defined for the Little Ice Age (LIA). Similar climatic swings have been observed previously in continental and marine archives of the last two millennia from central and southern Chile, suggesting a strong latitudinal sensitivity to changes in the Southern Westerly Winds, the main source of precipitation in southern Chile, and validating the regional nature of the LIA. Our results reveal the importance of the Chilean fjord system for recording climate changes of regional and global significance.
The Last Glacial–Interglacial Transition (LGIT; 15,000–11,000 cal BP) was characterized by complex spatiotemporal patterns of climate change, with numerous studies requiring accurate chronological control to decipher leads from lags in global paleoclimatic, paleoenvironmental, and archaeological records. However, close scrutiny of the few available tree-ring chronologies and radiocarbon-dated sequences composing the IntCal13 14C calibration curve indicates significant weakness in 14C calibration across key periods of the LGIT. Here, we present a decadally resolved atmospheric 14C record derived from New Zealand kauri spanning the Lateglacial from ~13,100–11,365 cal BP. Two floating kauri 14C time series, curve-matched to IntCal13, serve as a 14C backbone through the Younger Dryas. The floating Northern Hemisphere (NH) 14C data sets derived from the YD-B and Central European Lateglacial Master tree-ring series are matched against the new kauri data, forming a robust NH 14C time series to ~14,200 cal BP. Our results show that IntCal13 is questionable from ~12,200–11,900 cal BP and the ~10,400 BP 14C plateau is approximately 5 decades too short. The new kauri record and repositioned NH pine 14C series offer a refinement of the international 14C calibration curves IntCal13 and SHCal13, providing increased confidence in the correlation of global paleorecords.
The IntCal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon calibration curves have been revised utilizing newly available and updated data sets from 14C measurements on tree rings, plant macrofossils, speleothems, corals, and foraminifera. The calibration curves were derived from the data using the random walk model (RWM) used to generate IntCal09 and Marine09, which has been revised to account for additional uncertainties and error structures. The new curves were ratified at the 21st International Radiocarbon conference in July 2012 and are available as Supplemental Material at www.radiocarbon.org. The database can be accessed at http://intcal.qub.ac.uk/intcal13/.
High-quality data from appropriate archives are needed for the continuing improvement of radiocarbon calibration curves. We discuss here the basic assumptions behind 14C dating that necessitate calibration and the relative strengths and weaknesses of archives from which calibration data are obtained. We also highlight the procedures, problems, and uncertainties involved in determining atmospheric and surface ocean 14C/12C in these archives, including a discussion of the various methods used to derive an independent absolute timescale and uncertainty. The types of data required for the current IntCal database and calibration curve model are tabulated with examples.
We consider a general methodology for the transferral of chronologies from a master reference record containing direct dating information to an undated record of interest that does not. Transferral is achieved through the identification, by an expert, of a series of tie-points within both records that are believed to correspond to approximately contemporaneous events. Through tying of the 2 records together at these points, the reference chronology is elastically deformed onto the undated record. The method consists of 3 steps: creation of an age-depth model for the reference record using its direct dating information; selection of the tie-points and translation of their age estimates from the reference to the undated record; and finally, creation of an age-depth model for the undated record using these uncertain tie-point age estimates. Our method takes full account of the uncertainties involved in all stages of the process to create a final chronology within the undated record that allows joint age estimates to be found together with their credible intervals. To achieve computational practicality, we employ a Gaussian process to create our age-depth models. Calculations can then be performed exactly without resort to extremely slow Monte Carlo methods involving multiple independent model fits that would be required by other age-depth models.
The Keck Carbon Cycle AMS facility at the University of California, Irvine (KCCAMS/UCI) has developed protocols for analyzing radiocarbon in samples as small as ∼0.001 mg of carbon (C). Mass-balance background corrections for modern and 14C-dead carbon contamination (MC and DC, respectively) can be assessed by measuring 14C-free and modern standards, respectively, using the same sample processing techniques that are applied to unknown samples. This approach can be validated by measuring secondary standards of similar size and 14C composition to the unknown samples. Ordinary sample processing (such as ABA or leaching pretreatment, combustion/graphitization, and handling) introduces MC contamination of ∼0.6 ± 0.3 μg C, while DC is ∼0.3 ± 0.15 μg C. Today, the laboratory routinely analyzes graphite samples as small as 0.015 mg C for external submissions and ≅0.001 mg C for internal research activities with a precision of ∼1% for ∼0.010 mg C. However, when analyzing ultra-small samples isolated by a series of complex chemical and chromatographic methods (such as individual compounds), integrated procedural blanks may be far larger and more variable than those associated with combustion/graphitization alone. In some instances, the mass ratio of these blanks to the compounds of interest may be so high that the reported 14C results are meaningless. Thus, the abundance and variability of both MC and DC contamination encountered during ultra-small sample analysis must be carefully and thoroughly evaluated. Four case studies are presented to illustrate how extraction chemistry blanks are determined.
As a result of the growing use of multiple geochemical proxies to reconstruct ocean and climate changes in the past, there is an increasing need to establish temporal relationships between proxies derived from the same marine sediment record and ideally from the same core sections. Coupled proxy records of surface ocean properties, such as those based on lipid biomarkers (e.g. alkenone-derived sea surface temperature) and planktonic foraminiferal carbonate (oxygen isotopes), are a key example. Here, we assess whether 2 different solvent extraction procedures used for isolation of molecular biomarkers influence the radiocarbon contents of planktonic foraminiferal carbonate recovered from the corresponding residues of Bermuda Rise and Cariaco Basin sediments. Although minor Δ14C differences were observed between solvent-extracted and unextracted samples, no substantial or systematic offsets were evident. Overall, these data suggest that, in a practical sense, foraminiferal shells from a solvent-extracted residue can be reliably used for 14C dating to determine the age of sediment deposition and to examine age relationships with other sedimentary constituents (e.g. alkenones).
We built a floating, 1382-ring pine chronology covering the radiocarbon age interval of 12,000 to 10,650 BP. Based on the strong rise of Δ14C at the onset of the Younger Dryas (YD) and wiggle-matching of the decadal-scale Δ14C fluctuations, we can anchor the floating chronology to the Cariaco varve chronology. We observe a marine reservoir correction higher than hitherto assumed for the Cariaco site, of up to 650 yr instead of 400 yr, for the full length of the comparison interval. The tree-ring Δ14C shows several strong fluctuations of short duration (a few decades) at 13,800; 13,600; and 13,350 cal BP. The amplitude of the strong Δ14C rise at the onset of the YD is about 40, whereas in the marine data set the signal appears stronger due to a re-adjustment of the marine mixed-layer Δ14C towards the atmospheric level.
New radiocarbon calibration curves, IntCal04 and Marine04, have been constructed and internationally ratified to replace the terrestrial and marine components of IntCal98. The new calibration data sets extend an additional 2000 yr, from 0–26 cal kyr BP (Before Present, 0 cal BP = AD 1950), and provide much higher resolution, greater precision, and more detailed structure than IntCal98. For the Marine04 curve, dendrochronologically-dated tree-ring samples, converted with a box diffusion model to marine mixed-layer ages, cover the period from 0–10.5 cal kyr BP. Beyond 10.5 cal kyr BP, high-resolution marine data become available from foraminifera in varved sediments and U/Th-dated corals. The marine records are corrected with site-specific 14C reservoir age information to provide a single global marine mixed-layer calibration from 10.5–26.0 cal kyr BP. A substantial enhancement relative to IntCal98 is the introduction of a random walk model, which takes into account the uncertainty in both the calendar age and the 14C age to calculate the underlying calibration curve (Buck and Blackwell, this issue). The marine data sets and calibration curve for marine samples from the surface mixed layer (Marine04) are discussed here. The tree-ring data sets, sources of uncertainty, and regional offsets are presented in detail in a companion paper by Reimer et al. (this issue).
This paper describes the methods used to develop the Cariaco Basin PL07-58PC marine radiocarbon calibration data set. Background measurements are provided for the period when Cariaco samples were run, as well as revisions leading to the most recent version of the floating varve chronology. The floating Cariaco chronology has been anchored to an updated and expanded Preboreal pine tree-ring data set, with better estimates of uncertainty in the wiggle-match. Pending any further changes to the dendrochronology, these results represent the final Cariaco 58PC calibration data set.
The first meeting of the IntCal04 working group took place at Queen's University Belfast from April 15 to 17, 2002. The participants are listed as co-authors of this report. The meeting considered criteria for the acceptance of data into the next official calibration dataset, the importance of including reliable estimates of uncertainty in both the radiocarbon ages and the cal ages, and potential methods for combining datasets. This preliminary report summarizes the criteria that were discussed, but does not yet give specific recommendations for inclusion or exclusion of individual datasets.
The focus of this paper is the conversion of radiocarbon ages to calibrated (cal) ages for the interval 24,000–0 cal BP (Before Present, 0 cal BP = AD 1950), based upon a sample set of dendrochronologically dated tree rings, uranium-thorium dated corals, and varve-counted marine sediment. The 14C age–cal age information, produced by many laboratories, is converted to Δ14C profiles and calibration curves, for the atmosphere as well as the oceans. We discuss offsets in measured l4C ages and the errors therein, regional 14C age differences, tree–coral 14C age comparisons and the time dependence of marine reservoir ages, and evaluate decadal vs. single-year 14C results. Changes in oceanic deepwater circulation, especially for the 16,000–11,000 cal BP interval, are reflected in the Δ14C values of INTCAL98.
Varved sediments of the tropical Cariaco Basin provide a new 14C calibration data set for the period of deglaciation (10,000 to 14,500 years before present: 10–14.5 cal ka bp). Independent evaluations of the Cariaco Basin calendar and 14C chronologies were based on the agreement of varve ages with the GISP2 ice core layer chronology for similar high-resolution paleoclimate records, in addition to 14C age agreement with terrestrial 14C dates, even during large climatic changes. These assessments indicate that the Cariaco Basin 14C reservoir age remained stable throughout the Younger Dryas and late Allerød climatic events and that the varve and 14C chronologies provide an accurate alternative to existing calibrations based on coral U/Th dates. The Cariaco Basin calibration generally agrees with coral-derived calibrations but is more continuous and resolves century-scale details of 14C change not seen in the coral records. 14C plateaus can be identified at 9.6, 11.4, and 11.7 14C ka bp, in addition to a large, sloping “plateau” during the Younger Dryas (∼10 to 11 14C ka bp). Accounting for features such as these is crucial to determining the relative timing and rates of change during abrupt global climate changes of the last deglaciation.
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