Potential Sources of Error and Uncertainty in Radiocarbon Dates from North American Sites

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • Radiocarbon dating — the process of
    finding the age of a material by using the
    radioactive isotope carbon-14 — is an
    important tool in observing and inferring
    past ecological events and changes.
    However, it is not without its uncertainties.
    While contamination and poor treatment in
    the lab can lead to larger errors, so can
    mechanisms which convert the radiocarbon
    age produced by the dating process into a
    calendar age for scientists to use
    accordingly. There are more correlations
    between uncertainty and other factors —
    such as age and depth — which we will
    discuss in this paper.
    In addition, we are using fossil
    pollen sediment core data from the Neotoma
    Paleoecology Database. Many of the fossil
    pollen sediment cores taken were from lakes
    all over North America. Not only did we use
    the sediment core radiocarbon data, but we
    also used the longitude and latitude of the
    sites to map the area of their respective lakes
    using Google Earth Pro. We then classified
    the lakes as being small, medium, or large,
    according to a framework used in this paper.
    The dating process, along with the
    lake areas, gives us an idea of when an
    ecological event occurred using the
    radiocarbon date produced and whether the
    change was a local or a regional event using
    the area of the lake. By connecting these two
    parts, we gain a clearer sense of when and
    where an ecological occurrence happened.
    Also, by knowing the sizes of lakes,
    we can evaluate the scale of ecological
    change through space and time. Therefore,
    ecological change can be better understood,
    which would ultimately lead to improved
    predictions of past changes in different
    ecosystems across North America

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    Conference/Workshop Poster
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International