21 Nov 2022
 | 21 Nov 2022

Ultra-distal tephra deposits and Bayesian modelling constrain a variable marine radiocarbon offset in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland

Alistair Monteath, Matthew Bolton, Jordan Harvey, Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz, Christof Pearce, and Britta Jensen

Abstract. Radiocarbon dating marine sediments is complicated by the strongly heterogeneous age of ocean waters. Tephrochronology provides a well established method to constrain the age of local radiocarbon reservoirs and more accurately calibrate dates. Numerous ultra-distal cryptotephra deposits (non-visible volcanic ash >3000 km from source) have been identified in peatlands and lake sediments across north-eastern North America, and correlated with volcanic arcs in the Pacific north-west. Previously, however, these isochrons have never been identified in sediments from the north-west Atlantic Ocean. In this study, we report the presence of two ultra-distal cryptotephra deposits; Mazama Ash and White River Ash eastern lobe (WRAe), in Placentia Bay, North Atlantic Ocean. We use these well dated isochrons to constrain the local marine radiocarbon reservoir offset (ΔR) and develop a robust Bayesian age-depth model with a ΔR that varies through time. Our results indicate that the marine radiocarbon offset in Placentia Bay was -126±151 years (relative to the Marine20 calbration curve) at the time of Mazama Ash deposition (7622±18 C.E.) and -396±144 years at the time of WRAe deposition (852–853 C.E.). Changes in ΔR coincide with inferred shifts in relative influences of the Labrador Current and the Slopewater curret in the bay. An important conclusion is that single-offset models of ΔR are easiest to apply and often hard to disprove. However, such models may oversimplify reservoir effects in a core, even over relatively short time scales. Acknowledging potentially varying offsets is critical when ocean circulation and ventilation characteristics have differed over time. The addition of tephra isochrons permits the calculation of semi-independent reservoir corrections and verification of the single ΔR model.

Alistair Monteath et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1273', Anonymous Referee #1, 06 Jan 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Alistair Monteath, 10 Mar 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on Monteath et al egusphere-2022-1273', Paul Zander, 24 Jan 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Alistair Monteath, 10 Mar 2023

Alistair Monteath et al.

Alistair Monteath et al.


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Short summary
Accurately dating ocean cores is challenging because the radiocarbon age of water masses vary substantially. We identify ash fragments from eruptions >4000 km from their source and use these time-markers to develop a new age-depth model for an ocean core in, Placentia Bay, North Atlantic. Our results show that the radiocarbon age of waters masses in the Bay varied substantially during the last 10,000 years and highlight the potential of using ultra-distal ash deposits in this region.