The reliability of AMS radiocarbon dating of shells from China

Weijian Zhou, M. J. Head, Fubao Wang, D. J. Donahue, A. J.T. Jull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


We tested the feasibility of dating freshwater and terrestrial molluscs from the semiarid and arid zone in China, since these types of shell material deposit only aragonite to form their shell structure, and shell integrity can be easily observed using X-ray diffraction. We also tested the possibility of estimating microenvironmental changes from shell δ13C values, but variations within shell populations preclude the use of these values as a reliable indicator. Reservoir ages were calculated for living shells of the same species as fossil shells by using their measured 14C ages, which were recalculated using an average value of atmospheric 14C activity for the years spanning their time of collection as the modern standard. The results indicate that freshwater and terrestrial shells are potentially useful as dating material, provided extreme care is taken in their collection and other datable material (in this case wood and pollen) is within the profile to act as a comparison.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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