Progress towards improving chronologies for marine sediment records.

Bill Austin, Paula Reimer

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The North Atlantic has played a key role in abrupt climate changes due to the sensitivity of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) to the location and strength of deep water formation. It is crucial for modelling future climate change to understand the role of the AMOC in the rapid warming and gradual cooling cycles known as Dansgaard-Oescher (DO) events which are recorded in the Greenland ice cores. However, palaeoceanographic research into DO events has been hampered by the uncertainty in timing due largely to the lack of a precise chronological time frame for marine records. While tephrochronology provides links to the Greenland ice core records at a few points, radiocarbon remains the primary dating method for most marine cores. Due to variations in the atmospheric and oceanic 14C concentration, radiocarbon ages must be calibrated to provide calendric ages. The IntCal Working Group provides a global estimate of ocean 14C ages for calibration of marine radiocarbon dates, but the variability of the surface marine reservoir age in the North Atlantic particularly during Heinrich or DO events, makes calibration uncertain. In addition, the current Marine09 radiocarbon calibration beyond around 15 ka BP is largely based on 'tuning' to the Hulu Cave isotope record, so that the timing of events may not be entirely synchronous with the Greenland ice cores. The use of event-stratigraphy and independent chronological markers such as tephra provide the scope to improve marine radiocarbon reservoir age estimates particularly in the North Atlantic where a number of tephra horizons have been identified in both marine sediments and the Greenland ice cores. Quantification of timescale uncertainties is critical but statistical techniques which can take into account the differential dating between events can improve the precision. Such techniques should make it possible to develop specific marine calibration curves for selected regions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2012
EventCOST INTIMATE workshop - DeLutte, Netherlands
Duration: 25 Mar 201227 Mar 2012


WorkshopCOST INTIMATE workshop


  • North Atlantic
  • Marine
  • chronology


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