Radiocarbon dating suitability of aquatic plant macrofossils

James Marty, Amy E Myrbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Paleolimnological and plant physiological literature were reviewed to determine which types of aquatic plant macrofossils are suitable for radiocarbon dating, with a particular focus on the uptake of reservoir-aged dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) by emergent plants. Submerged aquatic plants utilize large amounts of DIC and are clearly not suitable for radiocarbon dating. Under certain environmental conditions, some emergent aquatic plants can metabolize DIC in quantities large enough to introduce old-carbon error to radiocarbon dates acquired from their remains (plant macrofossils). Over 300 plant macrofossil images are included in the online resource Tool for Microscopic Identification; along with guidance on identification and suitability for radiocarbon dating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-443
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC)
  • Emergent aquatic plants
  • Lake sediments
  • Plant macrofossils
  • Radiocarbon dating
  • Submerged aquatic plants

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