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Article
Nature 345, 405 - 410 (31 May 1990); doi:10.1038/345405a0

Calibration of the 14C timescale over the past 30,000 years using mass spectrometric U–Th ages from Barbados corals

Edouard Bard*, Bruno Hamelin*, Richard G. Fairbanks & Alan Zindler

Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, New York 10964, USA
*Present addresses: Centre des Faibles Radioactivités, CNRS-CEA, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France (E.B.) and Geosciences de I'Environnement, Université Aix-Marseille III, 13397 Marseille, France (B.H.).

Uranium–thorium ages obtained by mass spectrometry from corals raised off the island of Barbados confirm the high precision of this technique over at least the past 30,000 years. Comparison of the U–Th ages with 14C ages obtained on the Holocene samples shows that the U–Th ages are accurate, because they accord with the dendrochronological calibration. Before 9,000 yr BP the 14C ages are systematically younger than the U–Th ages, with a maximum difference of ~3,500 yr at ~20,000 yrBP . The U–Th technique thus provides a way of calibrating the radiocarbon timescale beyond the range of dendrochronological calibration.

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