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Precise Timing of the Last Interglacial Period from Mass Spectrometric Determination of Thorium-230 in Corals

Edwards, R. Lawrence and Chen, J. H. and Ku, T.-L. and Wasserburg, G. J. (1987) Precise Timing of the Last Interglacial Period from Mass Spectrometric Determination of Thorium-230 in Corals. Science, 236 (4808). pp. 1547-1553. ISSN 0036-8075. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20131107-140842214

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Abstract

The development of mass spectrometric techniques for determination of ^(230)Th abundance has made it possible to reduce analytical errors in ^(238)U-^(234)U-^(230)Th dating of corals even with very small samples. Samples of 6 x 10^8 atoms of ^(230)Th can be measured to an accuracy of ±3 percent (2σ) and 3 x 10^(10) atoms of ^(230)Th can be measured to an accuracy of ±0.2 percent. The time range over which useful age data on corals can be obtained now ranges from about 50 to about 500,000 years. For young corals, this approach may be preferable to ^(14)C dating. The precision with which the age of a coral can now be determined should make it possible to critically test the Milankovitch hypothesis concerning Pleistocene climate fluctuations. Analyses of a number of corals that grew during the last interglacial period yield ages of 122,000 to 130,000 years. The ages coincide with, or slightly postdate, the summer solar insolation high at 65°N latitude which occurred 128,000 years ago. This supports the idea that changes in Pleistocene climate can be the result of variations in the distribution of solar insolation caused by changes in the geometry of the earth's orbit and rotation axis.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.236.4808.1547DOIArticle
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/236/4808/1547.abstractPublisherArticle
http://www.jstor.org/stable/1699126PublisherArticle
ORCID:
AuthorORCID
Wasserburg, G. J.0000-0002-7957-8029
Additional Information:© 1987 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Received for publication 12 December 1986. Accepted for publication 13 April 1987. We have benefited from the advice of and discussions with A. L. Bloom, F. W. Taylor, W. S. Broecker, R. K. Matthews, K. K. Turekian, and P. Aharon. We thank R. K. Matthews for the Barbados samples, A. L. Bloom for the older Vanuatu samples, F. W. Taylor for the younger Vanuatu and Hispaniola samples, P. Aharon for the giant clam sample, J. M. Edmond for suggestive discussions, and D. A. Papanastassiou for advice and support. Supported by the California Institute of Technology and NASA grant NAG 9-43 for equipment. The α-counting work was supported by NSF grant ATM-8514472 to T.-L.K. Division Contribution No. 4429 (564). This study was carried out at the Lunatic Asylum of the Charles Arms Laboratory.
Funders:
Funding AgencyGrant Number
CaltechUNSPECIFIED
NASANAG 9-43
NSFATM-8514472
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences4429
Lunatic Asylum Lab564
Issue or Number:4808
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20131107-140842214
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20131107-140842214
Official Citation:Precise Timing of the Last Interglacial Period from Mass Spectrometric Determination of Thorium-230 in Corals R. LAWRENCE EDWARDS, J. H. CHEN, T.-L. KU, and G. J. WASSERBURG Science 19 June 1987: 236 (4808), 1547-1553. [DOI:10.1126/science.236.4808.1547]
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:42312
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:08 Nov 2013 15:50
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

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