The University of Arizona

A Protocol for Radiocarbon Dating Tropical Subfossil Cave Guano

Christopher M Wurster, Michael I Bird, Ian Bull, Charlotte Bryant, Philippa Ascough


We present accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dates on several organic fractions isolated from tropical guano deposits recovered from insular Southeast Asia. Differences were observed between 14C measurements made on bulk guano as well as bulk lipids, the saturated hydrocarbon fraction, solvent-extracted guano, and insect cuticles extracted from the same bulk sample. We infer that 14C dates from the bulk lipid fraction and saturated hydrocarbon fractions can be variably contaminated by exogenous carbon. In contrast, 14C measurements on solvent-extracted guano and isolated insect cuticles appear to yield the most robust age determinations.

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