Large variations in the Holocene marine radiocarbon reservoir effect reflect ocean circulation and climatic changes

Hua, Quan, Webb, Gregory E., Zhao, Jian-xin, Nothdurft, Luke D., Lybolt, Matthew, Price, Gilbert J., & Opdyke, Bradley N. (2015) Large variations in the Holocene marine radiocarbon reservoir effect reflect ocean circulation and climatic changes. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 422, pp. 33-44.

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Accurate radiocarbon dating of marine samples requires knowledge of the marine radiocarbon reservoir effect. This effect for a particular site/region is generally assumed constant through time when calibrating marine 14C ages. However, recent studies have shown large temporal variations of several hundred to a couple of thousand years in this effect for a number of regions during the late Quaternary and Holocene. Here we report marine radiocarbon reservoir correction (ΔRΔR) for Heron Reef and Moreton Bay in southwestern (SW) Pacific for the last 8 ka derived from 14C analysis of 230Th-dated corals. Most of our ΔRΔR for the last ∼5.4 ka agree well with their modern value, but large ΔRΔR variability of ∼410 yr (from trough to peak) with possible decadal/centennial fluctuations is evident for the period ∼5.4–8 ka. The latter time interval also has significant variations with similar features in previously published ΔRΔR values for other sites in the Pacific, including southern Peru–northern Chile in southeastern (SE) Pacific, the South China Sea, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, with the largest magnitude of ∼920 yr from SE Pacific. The mechanisms for these large ΔRΔR variations across the Pacific during the mid-Holocene are complex processes involving (1) changes in the quantity and 14C content of upwelled waters in tropical east Pacific (TEP) (frequency and intensity of ocean upwelling in the TEP, and contribution of Subantarctic Mode Water to the upwelled waters, which is influenced by the intensity and position of southern westerly winds), and (2) variations in ocean circulation associated with climate change (La Niña/El Niño conditions, intensity of easterly trade winds, positions of the Intertropical Convergence Zone and the South Pacific Convergence Zone), which control the spreading of the older upwelled surface waters in the TEP to the western sites. Our results imply the need for employing temporal changes in ΔRΔR values, instead of constant (modern) values, for age calibration of Holocene marine samples not only for the SW Pacific sites but also for other tropical and subtropical sites in the Pacific.

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ID Code: 86442
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Marine radiocarbon reservoir effect, U–Th dating, Ocean circulation, Climate change, Holocene, Corals
DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2015.03.049
ISSN: 0012-821X
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Crown Copyright 2015
Deposited On: 06 Aug 2015 00:39
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2015 05:09

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