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Very Long-Lived Mollusks Confirm 17th Century AD Tephra-Based Radiocarbon Reservoir Ages for North Icelandic Shelf Waters

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2016

Alan D Wanamaker Jr*
School of Ocean Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Wales LL59 5AB, United Kingdom
Jan Heinemeier
AMS 14C Dating Centre, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
James D Scourse
School of Ocean Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Wales LL59 5AB, United Kingdom
Christopher A Richardson
School of Ocean Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Wales LL59 5AB, United Kingdom
Paul G Butler
School of Ocean Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Wales LL59 5AB, United Kingdom
Jón Eiríksson
Earth Science Institute, Askja, University of Iceland, IS-101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Karen Luise Knudsen
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
Corresponding author. Email:
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Marine sediment records from the north Icelandic shelf, which rely on tephrochronological age models, reveal an average ΔR (regional deviation from the modeled global surface ocean reservoir age) of approximately 150 yr for the last millennium. These tephra-based age models have not hitherto been independently verified. Here, we provide data that corroborate ΔR values derived from these sediment archives. We sampled the youngest portion (ontogenetic age) of a bivalve shell, Arctica islandica (L.), for radiocarbon analysis, which was collected alive in 2006 from the north Icelandic shelf in ∼80 m water depth. Annual band counting from the sectioned shell revealed that this clam lived for more than 405 yr, making it the longest-lived mollusk and possibly the oldest non-colonial animal yet documented. The 14C age derived from the umbo region of the shell is 951 ± 27 yr BR Assuming that the bivalve settled onto the seabed at AD 1600, the corresponding local value of ΔR is found to be 237 ± 35 yr by comparison of the 14C age with the Marine04 calibration curve (Hughen et al. 2004) at this time. Furthermore, we cross-matched a 287-yr-old, dead-collected, A. islandica shell from AD 1601 to 1656 from the same site with the live-caught individual. 14C analysis from the ventral margin of this shell revealed a ΔR of 186 ± 50 yr at AD 1650. These values compare favorably with each other and with the tephra-based ΔR values during this period, illustrating that 14C from A. islandica can effectively record 14C reservoir changes in the shelf seas.

Copyright © 2008 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 


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Very Long-Lived Mollusks Confirm 17th Century AD Tephra-Based Radiocarbon Reservoir Ages for North Icelandic Shelf Waters
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