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The Chronos 14Carbon-Cycle Facility is a new radiocarbon laboratory at the University of New South Wales, Australia. Built around an Ionplus 200 kV MIni-CArbon DAting System (MICADAS) Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (AMS) installed in October 2019, the facility was established to address major challenges in the Earth, Environmental and Archaeological sciences. Here we report an overview of the Chronos facility, the pretreatment methods currently employed (bones, carbonates, peat, pollen, charcoal, and wood) and results of radiocarbon and stable isotope measurements undertaken on a wide range of sample types. Measurements on international standards, known-age and blank samples demonstrate the facility is capable of measuring 14C samples from the Anthropocene back to nearly 50,000 years ago. Future work will focus on improving our understanding of the Earth system and managing resources in a future warmer world.
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.
As the worldwide standard for radiocarbon (14C) dating over the past ca. 50,000 years, the International Calibration Curve (IntCal) is continuously improving towards higher resolution and replication. Tree-ring-based 14C measurements provide absolute dating throughout most of the Holocene, although high-precision data are limited for the Younger Dryas interval and farther back in time. Here, we describe the dendrochronological characteristics of 1448 new 14C dates, between ~11,950 and 13,160 cal BP, from 13 pines that were growing in Switzerland. Significantly enhancing the ongoing IntCal update (IntCal20), this Late Glacial (LG) compilation contains more annually precise 14C dates than any other contribution during any other period of time. Thus, our results now provide unique geochronological dating into the Younger Dryas, a pivotal period of climate and environmental change at the transition from LG into Early Holocene conditions.
Advances in accelerator mass spectrometry have resulted in an unprecedented amount of new high-precision radiocarbon (14C) -dates, some of which will redefine the international 14C calibration curves (IntCal and SHCal). Often these datasets are unaccompanied by detailed quality insurances in place at the laboratory, questioning whether the 14C structure is real, a result of a laboratory variation or measurement-scatter. A handful of intercomparison studies attempt to elucidate laboratory offsets but may fail to identify measurement-scatter and are often financially constrained. Here we introduce a protocol, called Quality Dating, implemented at ETH-Zürich to ensure reproducible and accurate high-precision 14C-dates. The protocol highlights the importance of the continuous measurements and evaluation of blanks, standards, references and replicates. This protocol is tested on an absolutely dated German Late Glacial tree-ring chronology, part of which is intercompared with the Curt Engelhorn-Center for Archaeometry, Mannheim, Germany (CEZA). The combined dataset contains 170 highly resolved, highly precise 14C-dates that supplement three decadal dates spanning 280 cal. years in IntCal, and provides detailed 14C structure for this interval.
Radiocarbon measurements in tree rings can be used to estimate atmospheric 14C concentration and thereby used to create a 14C calibration curve. When wood is discovered in construction sites, rivers, buildings, and lake sediments, it is unclear if the wood could fill gaps in the 14C calibration curve or if the wood is of historical interest until the age is determined by dendrochronology or 14C dating. However, dendrochronological dating is subjected to many requirements and 14C dating is costly and time consuming, both of which can be frivolous endeavors if the samples are not in the age range of interest. A simplified 14C dating technique, called Speed Dating, was thus developed. It can be used to quickly obtain 14C ages as wood samples are neither chemically treated nor graphitized. Instead, wood is combusted in an elemental analyzer (EA) and the CO2 produced is carried into an accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) with a gas ion source. Within a day, 75 samples can be measured with uncertainties between 0.5–2% depending on the age, preservation, and contaminants on the material and Speed Dating costs about one-third of conventional AMS dates.
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