Project Information
New constraints on 14C reservoirs around the Antarctic Peninsula and the Southern Ocean based on historically-harvested whale bones
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Radiocarbon dating is arguably the most common method for dating Quaternary deposits. However, accurate age assignments using radiocarbon dating are dependent on knowing the radiocarbon reservoir. For the coastal waters across Antarctica, the radiocarbon reservoirs show significant variation, ranging from 700 to 6,000 years depending on the material dated and the period in question. In this study, we examine the radiocarbon reservoir age for the shallow waters of the Southern Ocean using 23 whale bones salvaged from whaling stations operating on or near the Western Antarctic Peninsula between 1904 and 1916. The species origin of the bones had been identified previously as humpback, fin, or blue whales using sequences of mitochondrial (mt)DNA. We find an average reservoir age of 1050 +/- 135 years for these 23 whale bones, with a <100 year difference in the reservoir age value by species. A comparison between our results and other studies through the Holocene suggest that the Southern Ocean surface water radiocarbon reservoir age has not significantly changed for the last 14,000 years. Combining our new ages with existing data sets provides insight to the stability of the Southern Ocean marine radiocarbon reservoir age, enhancing our understanding of ocean ventilation and upwelling dynamics throughout the Holocene.
Person Role
Simms, Alexander Investigator and contact
Antarctic Earth Sciences Award # 2200448
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