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Dating of ancient permafrost is essential for understanding long-term permafrost stability and interpreting palaeoenvironmental conditions but presents substantial challenges to geochronology. Here, we apply four methods to permafrost from the megaslump at Batagay, east Siberia: (1) optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of quartz, (2) post-infrared infrared-stimulated luminescence (pIRIR) dating of K-feldspar, (3) radiocarbon dating of organic material, and (4) 36Cl/Cl dating of ice wedges. All four chronometers produce stratigraphically consistent and comparable ages. However, OSL appears to date Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3 to MIS 2 deposits more reliably than pIRIR, whereas the latter is more consistent with 36Cl/Cl ages for older deposits. The lower ice complex developed at least 650 ka, potentially during MIS 16, and represents the oldest dated permafrost in western Beringia and the second-oldest known ice in the Northern Hemisphere. It has survived multiple interglaciations, including the super-interglaciation MIS 11c, though a thaw unconformity and erosional surface indicate at least one episode of permafrost thaw and erosion occurred sometime between MIS 16 and 6. The upper ice complex formed from at least 60 to 30 ka during late MIS 4 to 3. The sand unit above the upper ice complex is dated to MIS 3–2, whereas the sand unit below formed at some time between MIS 4 and 16.
Temporal variations of the radionuclide 10Be are broadly synchronous across the globe and thus provide a powerful tool to synchronize ice core chronologies from different locations. We compared the 10Be record of the Akademii Nauk (AN) ice core (Russian Arctic) for the time period CE 1590–1950 to the 10Be records of two well-dated Greenland ice cores (Dye3 and NGRIP). A high correlation (r = 0.59) was found between the AN and Dye3 records whereas the correlation with NGRIP was distinctly lower (r = 0.45). Sources of deviations may include local fluctuations in the deposition of 10Be due to changes in the precipitation patterns, and artefacts due to the core-sampling strategy. In general, the existing age model was validated, confirming the AN ice core to be a unique and well-dated source of palaeoclimate parameters for the Russian Arctic. We further used numerical simulations to test the influence of the core-sampling strategy on the results and derived an optimized sampling strategy for the deeper parts of the ice core.
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