The University of Arizona

Dating Bulk Sediments from Limnic Deposits Using a Grain Size Approach

Leo Rothacker, Alexander Dreves, Frank Sirocko, Pieter M Grootes, Marie-Josée Nadeau


Radiocarbon measurements on bulk subaqueous sediments typically provide ages significantly older than actual time of deposition. This is generally caused by the presence of reworked organic compounds, which are depleted in 14C. To explore this issue of age heterogeneity, we collected 4 organic-rich samples from varying depths in a lake sediment core at the Gemündener Maar (Eifel, Germany), a lake of volcanic origin. We divided each sample into 5 standard grain-size fractions: gravel, sand, silt, clay, and 1 fraction smaller than 0.45 µm. These were cleaned separately using a standard acid-alkali-acid treatment. The highly organic gravel-size fraction provided the youngest 14C ages of all grain-size fractions and seems to be associated most closely with the time of deposition. By contrast, the silt and clay fractions show significantly older ages. If the investigated limnic sediment layer does not contain any identifiable terrestrial macrofossils, extracting and measuring coarser grain-size fractions instead of measuring bulk sediment samples will provide a better approximation of the time of sedimentation.

DOI: 10.2458/azu_js_rc.55.16208


bulk sediment; grain size; limnic deposits

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