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Tree-ring series offer considerable potential for the development of environment-sensitive proxy records. However, with traditional increment cores, only small amounts of wood are often available from annual tree-ring sequences. For this reason, it is important to understand the reliability (and reproducibility) of radiocarbon measurements obtained from small-sized samples. Here we report the F14C results from the Chronos 14Carbon-Cycle Facility of modern tropical Australian tree samples over a range of four graphite target sizes from the same rings. Our study shows that similar precision can be obtained from full-sized, half-sized, as well as small-sized graphite targets using standard pretreatment and analysis procedures. However, with a decline in sample size, there was an increase seen in the associated variance of the ages and the smallest target weights started showing a systematic bias. Wiggle-matching accuracy tests, comparing the Southern Hemisphere post-bomb atmospheric calibration curve to the different sample weight sequences, were all significant except for the 200 μgC graphite targets. Our results indicate that samples smaller than 350 μgC have limited accuracy and precision. Overall, reliable measurements of F14C sequences from tree-ring records across a range of sample sizes, with best results found using graphitized samples >350 μgC.
Wetland sediments are valuable archives of environmental change but can be challenging to date. Terrestrial macrofossils are often sparse, resulting in radiocarbon (14C) dating of less desirable organic fractions. An alternative approach for capturing changes in atmospheric 14C is the use of terrestrial microfossils. We 14C date pollen microfossils from two Australian wetland sediment sequences and compare these to ages from other sediment fractions (n = 56). For the Holocene Lake Werri Berri record, pollen 14C ages are consistent with 14C ages on bulk sediment and humic acids (n = 14), whilst Stable Polycyclic Aromatic Carbon (SPAC) 14C ages (n = 4) are significantly younger. For Welsby Lagoon, pollen concentrate 14C ages (n = 21) provide a stratigraphically coherent sequence back to 50 ka BP. 14C ages from humic acid and >100 µm fractions (n = 13) are inconsistent, and often substantially younger than pollen ages. Our comparison of Bayesian age-depth models, developed in Oxcal, Bacon and Undatable, highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the different programs for straightforward and more complex chrono-stratigraphic records. All models display broad similarities but differences in modeled age-uncertainty, particularly when age constraints are sparse. Intensive dating of wetland sequences improves the identification of outliers and generation of robust age models, regardless of program used.
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.
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