Radiocarbon dates on organic and calcareous fractions of sediment cores from marl lakes may yield anomalous ages due to the assumption of a constant hardwater correction factor along the sediment sequence. A study of eight marl lakes in southern Ontario that are actively precipitating calcium carbonate was conducted in order to assess those isotopic and aqueous geochemical parameters in modern lakes that may be utilized to estimate the history and extent of variations in the hardwater effect along such sediment sequences. Results show an increase in the δ13C composition of lake DIC (dissolved inorganic carbon) as approach to isotopic equilibrium with atmospheric CO2 occurs. Differences in the extent to which this equilibrium is established also appear responsible for observed differences in the 14C activity of DIC between lakes of as much as 20 pmc (percent modern carbon). These variations have been related to the relative residence times of water in each lake by examination of their corresponding seasonal variations in 18O and 2H content. Consequently δ13C and δ18O of marl and molluscs have been used to identify variations in the hardwater effect along the sediment profile. A profile of radiocarbon dates on marl from Little Lake in southern Ontario shows satisfactory agreement with an independently determined pollen chronology. Where certain criteria are met, marl deposits appear to be suitable material for establishing Quaternary chronology.

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