Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 127–135 | Cite as

Comparison of radiocarbon and OSL dating methods for a Late Quaternary sediment core from Lake Ulaan, Mongolia

  • Min Kyung Lee
  • Yong Il Lee
  • Hyoun Soo Lim
  • Jae Il Lee
  • Jeong Heon Choi
  • Ho Il Yoon
Original paper


Both radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating methods were applied to test their suitability for establishing a chronology of arid-zone lacustrine sediments using a 5.88-m-long core drilled from Lake Ulaan, southern Mongolia. Although the radiocarbon and OSL ages agree in some samples, the radiocarbon ages are older than the corresponding OSL ages at the 550-cm depth horizon (late Pleistocene) and in the 100–300-cm interval (early to late Holocene). In the early to late Holocene, radiocarbon ages are consistently older than OSL ages by 4,100–5,800 years, and in the late Pleistocene by 2,700–3,000 years. Grain-size analysis of early to late Holocene sediments and one late Pleistocene sediment sample (550-cm depth) indicates that eolian processes were the dominant sediment-transport mechanism. Also, two late Pleistocene sediments samples (from 400- to 500-cm depths) are interpreted to have been deposited by both eolian and glaciofluvial processes. Accordingly, the radiocarbon ages that were older than the corresponding OSL ages during the Holocene seem to have been a consequence of the influx of 14C-deficient carbon delivered from adjacent soils and Paleozoic carbonate rocks by the westerly winds, a process that is also active today. In addition to the input of old reworked carbon by eolian processes, the late Pleistocene sediments were also influenced by old carbon delivered by deglacial meltwater. The results of this study suggest that when eolian sediment transport is suspected, especially in lakes of arid environments, the OSL dating method is superior to the radiocarbon dating method, as it eliminates a common ‘old-carbon’ error problem.


Radiocarbon OSL Lacustrine sediment Arid condition Mongolia 



This work was supported by the Korea Polar Research Institute Project (PE10010), the Korea Meteorological Administration Research and Development Program (RACS 2010-3007, PN10040), and partly by a SNU-SEES BK21 program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Min Kyung Lee
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yong Il Lee
    • 1
  • Hyoun Soo Lim
    • 2
  • Jae Il Lee
    • 2
  • Jeong Heon Choi
    • 3
  • Ho Il Yoon
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesSeoul National UniversitySeoulKorea
  2. 2.Korea Polar Research Institute, KORDIIncheonKorea
  3. 3.Division of Earth and Environmental SciencesKorea Basic Science InstituteDaejeonKorea

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