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Ten marine reservoir effect (R) values were obtained from archaeological shell-middens along the San Matías Gulf, North Patagonian Atlantic coast, Argentina. They were determined by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) measurements on marine shell (Mytilidae) and charcoal samples (burned, short-lived plants) derived from a common stratigraphic unit. The R values fluctuate between 205±48 and 358±56 14C yr BP from ca. 5300 to ca. 700 14C yr BP with no obvious temporal trend. Calculated ΔR values fluctuate between +30±66 and –162±48 yr during the same time span. Local factors such as restricted connection with the open sea or presence of aged carbonates do not appear to have had an influence on this effect along the gulf coastline. The mean R value obtained (266 ± 51 yr) constitutes a useful value for correcting ages in shells from abundant archaeological deposits recorded in the area since Middle Holocene times.
The radiocarbon of the local reservoir effect (RE) was observed in many sectors along the Argentinean Patagonic coast. Results show variations in the 14C offsets and differences between marine and continental species growing within the same locality, ranging from about 80–1100 yr BP. It is postulated that such variations are mainly due to local factors, including the coast morphology and the contribution of continental waters. The relevance of these kinds of studies for the interpretation of age in archaeological samples is highlighted in this paper.
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