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Calculation of Past Dead Carbon Proportion and Variability by the Comparison of AMS 14C and Tims U/TH Ages on Two Holocene Stalagmites

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2016

Dominique Genty
Affiliation:
Université de Paris-Sud, Laboratoire d'Hydrologie et de Géochimie Isotopique, EP 1748, CNRS, bât. 504, F-91405 Orsay Cedex, France
Marc Massault
Affiliation:
Université de Paris-Sud, Laboratoire d'Hydrologie et de Géochimie Isotopique, EP 1748, CNRS, bât. 504, F-91405 Orsay Cedex, France
Mabs Gilmour
Affiliation:
The Open University, Department of Earth Sciences, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, England
Andy Baker
Affiliation:
University of Exeter, Department of Geography, Amory Building, Rennes Drive, EX4 4RJ Exeter, England
Sophie Verheyden
Affiliation:
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, WE-GISO, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Belgium
Eddy Kepens
Affiliation:
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, WE-GISO, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Belgium
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Abstract

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Twenty-two radiocarbon activity measurements were made by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) on 2 Holocene stalagmites from Belgium (Han-stm1b) and from southwest France (Vil-stm1b). Sixteen thermal ionization mass spectrometric (TIMS) U/Th measurements were performed parallel to AMS analyses. The past dead carbon proportion (dcp) due to limestone dissolution and old soil organic matter (SOM) degradation is calculated with U/Th ages, measured calcite 14C activity and atmospheric 14C activity from the dendrochronological calibration curves. Results show that the dcp is different for the 2 stalagmites: between 10,800 and 4780 yr from present dcp=17.5% (σ=2.4; n=10) for Han-stm1b and dcp=9.4% (σ=1.6; n=6) between 3070 and 520 yr for Vil-stm1b. Despite a broad stability of the dcp during the time ranges covered by each sample, a slight dcp increase of about 5.0% is observed in the Han-stm1b sample between 8500 and 5200 yr. This change is synchronous with a calcite δ13C increase, which could be due to variation in limestone dissolution processes possibly linked with a vegetation change. The dcp and δ13C of the 2 studied samples are compared with 5 other modern stalagmites from Europe. Results show that several factors intervene, among them: the vegetation type, and the soil saturation leading to variable dissolution process systems (open/closed). The good correlation (R2=0.98) between the U/Th ages and the calibrated 14C ages corrected with a constant dcp validates the 14C method. However, the dcp error leads to large 14C age errors (i.e. 250–500 yr for the period studied), which is an obstacle for both a high-resolution chronology and the improvement of the 14C calibration curves, at least for the Holocene.

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Copyright © 1999 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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