Publications

Integrating chronological uncertainties for laminated lake sediments using independent chronology and layer counting in a Bayesian age modelling framework

Citation

Vandergoes, M.J., Howarth, J, Dunbar, G, Turnbull, J., Roop, H.A., Levy, R., Li, X., Prior, C., Norris, M., Keller, E.D., Fitzsimons, S.J., Bronk Ramsey, C., 2018. Integrating chronological uncertainties for laminated lake sediments using independent chronology and layer counting in a Bayesian age modelling framework. Quaternary Science Reviews, 188, 104 -120.  doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.03.015


Abstract

Annually resolved (varved) lake sequences are important palaeoenvironmental archives as they offer a direct incremental dating technique for high-frequency reconstruction of environmental and climate change. Despite the importance of these records, establishing a robust chronology and quantifying its precision and accuracy (estimations of error) remains an essential but challenging component of their development. We outline an approach for building reliable independent chronologies, testing the accuracy of layer counts and integrating all chronological uncertainties to provide quantitative age and error estimates for varved lake sequences. The approach incorporates (1) layer counts and estimates of counting precision; (2) radiometric and biostratigrapic dating techniques to derive independent chronology; and (3) the application of Bayesian age modelling to produce an integrated age model. This approach is applied to a case study of an annually resolved sediment record from Lake Ohau, New Zealand. The most robust age model provides an average error of 72 years across the whole depth range. This represents a fractional uncertainty of ∼5%, higher than the <3% quoted for most published varve records. However, the age model and reported uncertainty represent the best fit between layer counts and independent chronology and the uncertainties account for both layer counting precision and the chronological accuracy of the layer counts. This integrated approach provides a more representative estimate of age uncertainty and therefore represents a statistically more robust chronology.