Direct application of compound-specific radiocarbon analysis of leaf waxes to establish lacustrine sediment chronology
Popp, Brian N.
Schoonmaker, Jane E.
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KeywordCompound-specific radiocarbon analysis; Compound-specific isotopic analysis; Lacustrine sediment; N-alkanes; Leaf waxes; Radiocarbon dating
This study demonstrates use of compound-specific radiocarbon analysis (CSRA) for dating Holocene lacustrine sediments from carbonate-hosted Ordy Pond, Oahu, Hawaii. Long-chain odd-numbered normal alkanes (n-alkanes), biomarkers characteristic of terrestrial higher plants, were ubiquitous in Ordy Pond sediments. The δ13C of individual n-alkanes ranged from −29.9 to −25.5‰, within the expected range for n-alkanes synthesized by land plants using the C3 or C4 carbon fixation pathway. The 14C ages of n-alkanes determined by CSRA showed remarkably good agreement with 14C dates of rare plant macrofossils obtained from nearby sedimentary horizons. In general, CSRA of n-alkanes successfully refined the age-control of the sediments. The sum of n-alkanes in each sample produced 70–170 μg of carbon (C), however, greater age errors were confirmed for samples containing less than 80 μg of C. The 14C age of n-alkanes from one particular sedimentary horizon was 4,155 years older than the value expected from the refined age-control, resulting in an apparent and arguable age discrepancy. Several lines of evidence suggest that this particular sample was contaminated by introduction of 14C-free C during preparative capillary gas chromatography. This study simultaneously highlighted the promising potential of CSRA for paleo-applications and the risks of contamination associated with micro-scale 14C measurement of individual organic compounds.
Author Posting. © Springer, 2007. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Springer for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Paleolimnology 39 (2008): 43-60, doi:10.1007/s10933-007-9094-1.
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