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Precise and high-resolution chronologies of continental sedimentary records (e.g., lacustrine and cave deposits) are instrumental for establishing Quaternary climatic pattern on the continents and for comparison to marine and ice core records of climate change. Radiocarbon is the major dating method for establishing Holocene and late-glacial chronologies, yet its use often requires determination of the reservoir age, and beyond ca. 24 ka cal. B.P., the calibration curve to calendar years is not well established. Thus, beyond the youngest portion of the last Glacial period, U-Th dating of carbonates becomes the major means in obtaining high-resolution chronologies. However, these age determinations are hampered by contamination of the samples with detrital U and Th and by the presence of aqueous Th. Here we summarize the approaches used to address the problems in U-Th and radiocarbon dating of the late Pleistocene and Holocene sedimentary records of the Dead Sea basin. This mainly includes solutions for the problem of detrital U and Th and aqueous (initial) Th in the Lisan carbonates and the evaluation of “reservoir ages” in the determination of carbonate radiocarbon ages. The calendar U-Th and calibrated radiocarbon ages are used for establishing the environmental (climate and seismological) chronology of the region (e.g., reconstruction of a high-resolution lake level curve and correlation with global climatic records), for paleomagnetic reconstruction (e.g., the documentation of secular variations and geomagnetic excursions such as the Laschamp Event ca. 40 ka cal B.P.), and extending the calibration of the radiocarbon time scale.

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