Abstract

The relation between age and amino-acid epimer ratios (alloisoleucine/isoleucine, A/I) of Holocene land snails was quantitatively evaluated through 14C and amino-acid analysis of 33 samples from fluvial and colluvial sediments and rodent middens in the Northern Negev Desert of Israel. A/I is strongly correlated with 14C ages in fluvial and rodent midden deposits (r = 0.95 and 0.94, respectively), permitting age estimates from A/I ratios with precisions of ±700 and ±660 yr. The correlation is weaker in colluvial deposits (r = 0.74), and age estimates from A/I ratios are correspondingly less precise (±1580 yr). This probably results from delayed burial, which exposes the shells to intense radiation on the desert surface. Because of the generally strong relation between age and A/I, amino-acid epimerization analysis of individual shells can be used to identify mixed-age deposits and to reconstruct species chronologies from mixed-age deposits.

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