AMS 14C dating of tundra lake sediments using chironomid head capsules

Marie Andrée Fallu, Reinhard Pienitz, Ian R. Walker, Jonathan Overpeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Radiocarbon dating of late-Quaternary sediments from high-latitude lakes is often complicated by the influx of old carbon, reservoir effects, or both. If terrestrial plant macrofossils are also absent, the dating of bulk sediment often provides the only means to establish chronologies for these problematic sediment sequences. Given that chironomid (non-biting midge) remains are sufficiently abundant in many northern lakes to be 14C-dated via the accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) method, we decided to explore their utility in age-model development. Five age determinations based on chironomid material were obtained from a lake sediment core sampled in the shrub tundra of northern Québec. These results were compared to six AMS bulk sediment ages, as well as to a date obtained from Drepanocladus spp. The chironomids yielded consistently younger ages (with increasing age offset upcore), confirming both the presence of a reservoir effect and the value of chironomids in establishing more reliable 14C chronologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-22
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


  • AMS radiocarbon dating
  • Aquatic insects
  • Chironomids
  • Lake sediments
  • Northern lakes
  • Old organic carbon
  • Reservoir effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'AMS 14C dating of tundra lake sediments using chironomid head capsules'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this