Estimation of Age-Depth Relationships

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Abstract

An accurate and precise chronology is an essential pre-requisite for any palaeolimnological study. Chronologies give time-scales for events, and hence for rates for patterns and processes, and make it possible to compare and correlate events in different stratigraphical sequences. Palaeolimnology without chronology is history without dates.

As radiocarbon dating is so widely used in palaeolimnology, this chapter focuses on 14C dating, and its associated errors and the calibration of 14C ages to calibrated 14C ages. Calibration is an essential step before constructing age-depth models, There are several approaches to establishing age-depth relationships – linear interpolation, polynomial regression, splines, mixed-effect models, and Bayesian age-depth modelling involving chronological ordering or wiggle-matching. The critical question of model selection is discussed and future developments are outlined, along with details of available software.