Diagenetic conversion of isoleucine to alloisoleucine in shells of Mercenaria provides a quantitative geochemical aid for interpreting the Pleistocene sequence in southern Florida. At least seven different cycles of marine sedimentation, reflecting high sea levels, and seven unconformities, indicating low sea levels, are recorded. The technique can be applied to other Pleistocene deposits in the Atlantic Coastal Plain and could be a useful adjunct in Quaternary biostratigraphic interpretations. In addition, the alloisoleucine content provides an independent check on the validity of radiocarbon dates.

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