Using the N/C ratio to correct bulk radiocarbon ages from lake sediments : insights from Chilean Patagonia

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Bertrand, Sebastien
Araneda, Alberto
Vargas, Patricia
Jana, Patricia
Fagel, Nathalie
Urrutia, Roberto
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Old carbon
Age model
Soil organic matter
The offset between AMS radiocarbon ages obtained on bulk lake sediments and the true age of deposition was evaluated at four sites in Northern Chilean Patagonia. Our results show that the bulk radiocarbon ages are systematically older by 300 to 1100 years. In this region free of carbonate and carbonaceous rocks, we argue that this difference results from variable inputs of terrestrial organic carbon from the Holocene soils that cover the lake watersheds. For the four studied lakes, the age offset is clearly related to the fraction of terrestrial carbon preserved in the lake sediments, which was estimated using the N/C ratio of the bulk organic matter. We propose that N/C measurements can be used to significantly improve chronologies based on radiocarbon dating of bulk lake sediments.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2012. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Elsevier B.V. for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Quaternary Geochronology 12 (2012): 23-29, doi:10.1016/j.quageo.2012.06.003.
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