Research Article

Extremely Large Variations of Atmospheric 14C Concentration During the Last Glacial Period

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Science  29 Jun 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5526, pp. 2453-2458
DOI: 10.1126/science.1056649

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A long record of atmospheric 14C concentration, from 45 to 11 thousand years ago (ka), was obtained from a stalagmite with thermal-ionization mass-spectrometric 230Th and accelerator mass-spectrometric 14C measurements. This record reveals highly elevated Δ14C between 45 and 33 ka, portions of which may correlate with peaks in cosmogenic 36Cl and10Be isotopes observed in polar ice cores. Superimposed on this broad peak of Δ14C are several rapid excursions, the largest of which occurs between 44.3 and 43.3 ka. Between 26 and 11 ka, atmospheric Δ14C decreased from ∼700 to ∼100 per mil, modulated by numerous minor excursions. Carbon cycle models suggest that the major features of this record cannot be produced with solar or terrestrial magnetic field modulation alone but also require substantial fluctuations in the carbon cycle.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: wbeck{at}, David.Richards{at}

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