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Radiocarbon reservoir ages in the Gulf of California; roles of upwelling and flow from the Colorado River.

Glenn A Goodfriend


We measured apparent radiocarbon ages of live-collected, pre-bomb mollusk shells from the northern and central Gulf of California to determine the source of the reservoir ages and the reservoir age correction offsets for calibrating (super 14) C dates of fossil samples. Reservoir ages average 860 yr in the northern Gulf and 725 yr in the central Gulf. The corresponding Delta R values (the deviation from typical worldwide values) are 540 yr and 395 yr, respectively, with variabilities (SD) of 90 and 110 yr. This variability significantly limits the precision of calibrated (super 14) C ages. The apparent (super 14) C age of Colorado River water (as measured in a freshwater mussel, collected in the 1890s, before diversion of river flow) is not sufficiently high (1420 yr) to account for the high reservoir ages in the Gulf. The lack of a relation between the stable isotope composition of Gulf mollusks and their reservoir ages is further evidence that the Colorado River does not make a significant contribution to Gulf reservoir ages. Upwelling of old, deep Pacific-derived water appears to be the cause of the large reservoir ages.


Colorado River;paleohydrology;corrections;O 18 O 16;inorganic materials;upwelling;North Pacific;East Pacific;Northeast Pacific;Gulf of California;calibration;sea water;oxygen;Pacific Ocean;variations;isotope ratios;Holocene;Cenozoic;Quaternary;C 14;carbon;dates;isotopes;radioactive isotopes;shells;Invertebrata;Mollusca;C 13 C 12;stable isotopes;absolute age

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