Mediterranean Sea Surface Radiocarbon Reservoir Age Changes Since the Last Glacial Maximum

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Science  30 Nov 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5548, pp. 1917-1920
DOI: 10.1126/science.1063649

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Sea surface reservoir ages must be known to establish a common chronological framework for marine, continental, and cryospheric paleoproxies, and are crucial for understanding ocean-continent climatic relationships and the paleoventilation of the ocean. Radiocarbon dates of planktonic foraminifera and tephra contemporaneously deposited over Mediterranean marine and terrestrial regions reveal that the reservoir ages were similar to the modern one (∼400 years) during most of the past 18,000 carbon-14 years. However, reservoir ages increased by a factor of 2 at the beginning of the last deglaciation. This is attributed to changes of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation during the massive ice discharge event Heinrich 1.

  • * Present address: Laboratoire de Géochimie des Roches Sédimentaires Université de Paris XI–Orsay, France.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: martine.paterne{at}

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