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Mollusk shells provide brief (<5 yr per shell) records of past marine conditions, including marine radiocarbon reservoir age (R) and upwelling. We report 21 14C ages and R calculations on small (~2 mg) samples from 2 Mesodesma donacium (surf clam) shells. These shells were excavated from a semi-subterranean house floor stratum 14C dated to 7625 ?? 35 BP at site QJ-280, Quebrada Jaguay, southern Peru. The ranges in marine 14C ages (and thus R) from the 2 shells are 530 and 170 14C yr; R from individual aragonite samples spans 130 ?? 60 to 730 ?? 170 14C yr. This intrashell 14C variability suggests that 14C dating of small (time-slice much less than 1 yr) marine samples from a variable-R (i.e. variable-upwelling) environment may introduce centuries of chronometric uncertainty. ?? 2010 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona.
Additional Publication Details
Centuries of marine radiocarbon reservoir age variation within archaeological Mesodesma Donacium shells from Southern Peru