Radiocarbon dating of primary aragonite by sequential extraction of CO 2

R. Bookman, B. Lazar, M. Stein, G. S. Burr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper describes the potential of correcting the 14C age shift resulting from the contamination of primary aragonites by detrital carbonates using online sequential extraction of CO2. The experiments were carried out on laminated lacustrine aragonites collected from Holocene Dead Sea sediment sections. X-ray diffraction analysis revealed the presence of detrital calcite interpreted to originate from the watershed and transported to the lake with runoff. The contamination could not be separated physically from the sample, potentially contributing decayed 14C ('dead carbon') and increasing the age of the aragonite. Sequential extraction of successive fractions of CO2 unveiled the effect of detrital material on the 14C ages, and showed that the first CO2 extract represents the least contaminated 14C fraction that provides the best approximation for the true 14C age (which includes the lake's reservoir age). We calculated the age offset contributed by the contamination range encountered in this study (1-21%) to be about 900 years per 10% contamination. The sequential extraction procedure is recommended for 14C dating of Holocene age lacustrine carbonates suspected to be contaminated with extraneous carbon-bearing materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-137
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Aragonite
  • Dead Sea
  • Dead carbon
  • Lacustrine carbonates
  • Radiocarbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Paleontology


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