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Discussion: Reporting and Calibration of Post-Bomb 14C Data

Paula J Reimer, Thomas A Brown, Ron W Reimer


The definitive paper by Stuiver and Polach (1977)established the conventions for reporting of radiocarbon data for chronological and geophysical studies based on the radiocactive decay of 14c in the sample since the year of sample death or formation. Several ways of reporting 14c activity levels relative to a standard were also established, but no specific instructions were given for reporting nuclear weapons-testing (post-bomb) 14c levels in samples. Because the use of post-bomb 14c is becoming more prevalent in forensice, biology, and geosciences, a convention needs to be adopted. We advocate the use of fraction modern with a new symbol F14c to prevent confusion with the previously used Fm, which may or may not have been fractionation-corrected. We also discuss the calibration of post-bomb 14c samples and the available data sets and compilations, but do not give a recommendation for a particular data set.

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