New approach to assessing age uncertainties – The 2300-year varve chronology from Eklutna Lake, Alaska (USA)

David Fortin, Nore Praet, Nicholas P. McKay, Darrell S. Kaufman, Britta J.L. Jensen, Peter J. Haeussler, Casey Buchanan, Marc De Batist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Developing robust chronological frameworks of lacustrine sediment is central to reconstructing past environmental changes. We present varve chronologies from five sites extending back 2300 years from Eklutna Lake, in the Chugach Mountains of south-central Alaska. The chronologies are built from image analysis of high-resolution photographs and CT scans of sediment cores. The age uncertainty of each record is tested by three methods. We first present varve chronologies from individual sites and reconcile the difference in varve delimitation from two observers. The varve chronologies from each site are then compared to each other using a series of marker beds that can be traced across the lake basin. Finally, using a new Bayesian probabilistic model, we develop age models that incorporate information regarding age uncertainty from the multiple-observer method and the age distribution of marker layers from multiple cores. To evaluate the accuracy of the Bayesian model output, we used seven radiocarbon ages from terrestrial macrofossils and four tephra layers traceable across the core sites. The major-element geochemistry of the tephra layers and their ages are presented here for the first time. The Bayesian age model offers a new approach to quantifying age uncertainty in inter-correlated cores of varved sediment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-101
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
DF, NPM and DSK were funded by NSF awards 1418000 and 1602106 . NP and MDB were funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO-Vlaanderen grant G042812N). We are grateful to Doug Steen and Christopher Benson for help with the multiple-observer varve counts, Adrian Bender, Kristi Wallace and an anonymous reviewer for input on an earlier version of the manuscript, Chugach State Park for its interest in this work, and R. Achten and E. Van de Moortel for use of the CT scanner at Ghent University Hospital. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsment by the U.S. Government.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Age model
  • Alaska
  • Geochronology
  • Tephra
  • Varve

Continental Scientific Drilling Facility tags

  • ANCH


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