17 Apr 2023
 | 17 Apr 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GChron.

The marine reservoir age of Greenland coastal waters

Christof Pearce, Karen Søby Özdemir, Ronja Cedergreen Forchhammer, Henrieka Detlef, and Jesper Olsen

Abstract. Knowledge of the marine reservoir age is fundamental for creating reliable chronologies of marine sediment archives based on radiocarbon dating. This age difference between the 14C age of a marine sample and that of its contemporaneous atmosphere is dependent on several factors, among others ocean circulation, water mass distribution, terrestrial runoff, upwelling, sea-ice cover and is therefore spatially heterogenous. Anthropogenic influence on the global isotopic carbon system, mostly through atmospheric nuclear tests, has complicated the determination of the regional reservoir age correction ΔR, which therefore can only be measured on historic samples of known age. In this study we expand on the few existing measurements of ΔR for the coastal waters around Greenland, by adding 92 new radiocarbon dates on mollusks from museum collections. All studied mollusk samples were collected during historic expeditions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and besides coastal sites around Greenland, the dataset also includes localities from the western Labrador Sea, Baffin Bay, and the Iceland Sea. Together with existing measurements, the new results are used to calculate average ΔR values for different regions around Greenland, all in relation to Marine20, the most recent radiocarbon calibration curve. To support further discussions and comparison with previous datasets, we introduce the term ΔR13 where the suffix 13 refers to the previous calibration curve Marine13. Our study explores the links between the marine reservoir age and oceanography, sea ice cover, water depth, mollusk feeding habits, and the presence of carbonate bedrock. Although we provide regional averages, we encourage people to consult the full catalogue of measurements and determine a suitable ΔR for each case individually, based on the exact location including water depth. Despite this significant expansion of the regional reservoir age database around Greenland, data from the northern coast, directly bordering the Arctic Ocean remains missing.

Christof Pearce et al.

Status: open (until 29 Jun 2023)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on gchron-2023-7', Paula Reimer, 13 May 2023 reply

Christof Pearce et al.

Christof Pearce et al.


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Short summary
Reliable chronologies lie at the base of paleoclimatological reconstructions. When working with marine sediment core, the most common dating tool for recent sediments is radiocarbon, but this requires calibration to convert to calendar ages. This calibration requires knowledge of the marine radiocarbon reservoir age and this is known to vary in space and time. In this study we provide 92 new radiocarbon measurements to improve our knowledge of the reservoir age around Greenland.