The University of Arizona
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A simple method to separate pollen for AMS radiocarbon dating and its application to lacustrine and marine sediments.

Scott A Mensing, John R Southon


We present a simple method for manually separating pollen concentrates for radiocarbon accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating using a mouth pipetting system. The required equipment is readily available from scientific equipment supply houses at minimal cost. Pollen samples from lake sediments required about 4 h of hand picking, whereas samples from marine sediments required about 8 h labor. Pollen dates from marine sediments were much older than expected. We are attempting to resolve whether this is due to contamination of the pollen or the presence of significant quantities of old reworked pollen. Pollen dates from lake sediments associated with Mazama Ash were consistent with other published ages; however, replicate dates on pollen samples from above the ash were consistently older than the surrounding sediment. Our results suggest that caution must be used when interpreting pollen dates if the potential for sediment reworking is present.


Lake Moran;Mazama Ash;Sierra Nevada;Santa Barbara Basin;lake sediments;lacustrine environment;California;marine sediments;instruments;Holocene;microfossils;miospores;palynomorphs;pollen;accelerator mass spectroscopy;mass spectroscopy;spectroscopy;United States;sample preparation;sediments;Cenozoic;Quaternary;methods;geochronology;C 14;carbon;dates;isotopes;radioactive isotopes;absolute age

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