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Journal Articles Scientific Reports Year : 2022

Assessing the carbonisation temperatures recorded by ancient charcoals for δ13C-based palaeoclimate reconstruction

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Abstract

Abstract Ancient charcoal fragments, produced by the use of wood as fuel in archaeological contexts or during natural or anthropic forest fires, persist in soil and sediments over centuries to millennia. They thus offer a unique window to reconstruct past climate, especially palaeo-precipitation regimes thanks to their stable carbon isotope composition. However, the initial δ13C of wood is slightly modified as a function of the carbonisation temperature. Carbonisation-induced 13C fractionation is classically investigated through a transfer function between experimental carbonisation temperatures and the carbon content. This approach assumes that the carbon content is conservative through time in ancient charcoals and neglects the potential impact of post-depositional oxidation occurring in soils and sediments. In the present study, we first show that post-depositional oxidation can lead to a large underestimation of past carbonisation temperatures, thereby minimising the estimation of carbonisation-induced 13C fractionations and possibly biasing δ13C-based climate reconstructions. Secondly, by combining carbon content, Fourier-transform infrared and Raman spectroscopy, we propose a new framework to assess the carbonisation temperatures registered in ancient charcoals. This new framework paves the way to reassessing δ13C-based climate reconstruction.
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Dates and versions

hal-03769510 , version 1 (05-09-2022)

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Camille Mouraux, Frédéric Delarue, Jérémie Bardin, Thanh Thuy Nguyen Tu, Ludovic Bellot-Gurlet, et al.. Assessing the carbonisation temperatures recorded by ancient charcoals for δ13C-based palaeoclimate reconstruction. Scientific Reports, 2022, 12 (1), pp.14662. ⟨10.1038/s41598-022-17836-2⟩. ⟨hal-03769510⟩
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