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Age assignment of a diatomaceous ooze deposited in the western Amundsen Sea embayment after the last glacial maximum.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

  • Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand
  • James A. Smith
  • Gerhard Kuhn
  • Oliver Esper
  • Rainer Gersonde
  • Rob D. Larter
  • Barbara A. Maher
  • Steven G. Moreton
  • Tracy M. Shimmield
  • Monika Korte
Journal publication date03/2010
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Journal number3
Volume25
Number of pages16
Pages280-295
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Reliable dating of glaciomarine sediments deposited on the Antarctic shelf since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) is challenging because of the rarity of calcareous (micro-) fossils and the recycling of fossil organic matter. Consequently, radiocarbon (14C) ages of the acid-insoluble organic fraction (AIO) of the sediments bear uncertainties that are difficult to quantify. Here we present the results of three different methods to date a sedimentary unit consisting of diatomaceous ooze and diatomaceous mud that was deposited following the last deglaciation at five core sites on the inner shelf in the western Amundsen Sea (West Antarctica). In three cores conventional 14C dating of the AIO in bulk samples yielded age reversals down-core, but at all sites the AIO 14C ages obtained from diatomaceous ooze within the diatom-rich unit yielded similar uncorrected 14C ages between 13 51756 and 11 54347 years before present (a BP). Correction of these ages by subtracting the core-top ages, which probably reflect present-day deposition (as indicated by 210Pb dating of the sediment surface at one core site), yielded ages between ca. 10 500 and 8400 cal. a BP. Correction of the AIO ages of the diatomaceous ooze by only subtracting the marine reservoir effect (MRE) of 1300 a indicated deposition of the diatom-rich sediments between 14 100 and 11 900 cal. a BP. Most of these ages are consistent with age constraints between 13.0 and 8.0 ka for the diatom-rich unit, which we obtained by correlating the relative palaeomagnetic intensity (RPI) records of three of the sediment cores with global and regional reference curves. As a third dating technique we applied conventional radiocarbon dating of the AIO included in acid-cleaned diatom hard parts extracted from the diatomaceous ooze. This method yielded uncorrected 14C ages of only 511138 and 510638 a BP, respectively. We reject these young ages, because they are likely to be overprinted by the adsorption of modern atmospheric carbon dioxide onto the surfaces of the diatom hard parts prior to sample graphitisation and combustion for 14C dating. The deposition of the diatom-rich unit in the western Amundsen Sea suggests deglaciation of the inner shelf before ca. 13 ka BP. The deposition of diatomaceous oozes elsewhere on the Antarctic shelf around the same time, however, seems to be coincidental rather than directly related.