Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 November 2018
Coastal lake sediments are valuable paleoclimate archives provided that they can be accurately dated. Here, we report radiocarbon ages of bulk sediment organic matter (OM), plants, shells, particulate OM, and dissolved OM from coastal lakes in Florida. Bulk sediment OM yielded ages that are consistently older than contemporaneous plants and shells, indicating significant radiocarbon deficiencies in sedimentary OM in these lakes. The data show that the OM radiocarbon deficiency varies over time and with location, making it impossible to determine a proper correction factor for radiocarbon ages of bulk sediments from these lakes. As a result, we consider ages obtained from bulk sediment OM from these lakes unreliable. The age reversals in bulk sediment OM observed in the sediment cores are likely caused by rapid increases in erosion and sedimentation resulting from large storm events. The data also show that sedimentation rate can vary considerably within a given lake, implying that an age-depth model established for one core cannot be directly applied to other cores despite their close proximity. Analyses of shells from one of the lakes suggest that fresh/brackish-water shells may serve as a good substrate for radiocarbon dating owing to a small reservoir effect on inorganic carbon.