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In addition to being crucial to the establishment of archaeological chronologies, radiocarbon dating is vital to the establishment of time lines for many Holocene and late Pleistocene palaeoclimatic studies and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions.
The calibration curves necessary to map radiocarbon to calendar ages were originally estimated using only measurements on known age tree-rings.
More recently, however, the types of records available for calibration have diversified and a large group of scientists (known as the Int Cal Working Group---IWG) with a wide range of backgrounds has come together to create internationally-agreed estimates of the calibration curves.
In 2002, Caitlin Buck was recruited to the IWG and asked to offer advice on statistical methods for curve construction.
An understanding of the origin of this error could help to evaluate the robustness of all ice core dating. ) covers the last 2500 years; Half the period of human history (~5000 years).
Synchronising ice cores with tree dates, as well as with historical dates, is even more problematic the further in the past one goes.
It also confirms that the so-called “AD 536 event” was a two-stage event, with two large eruptions, a Northern hemisphere eruption in AD 536, and tropical eruption in AD 540, causing over a decade of poor climate and hardship on human civilisation.In collaboration with Paul Blackwell, she devised a tailor-made Bayesian curve estimation method which was adopted by the IWG for making all of the 2004 internationally-agreed radiocarbon calibration curve estimates. This paper reports on that work and on the on-going work that will eventually provide models, methods and software for rolling updates to the curve estimates. Finally, a key controversy in archaeological research is the accurate dating of the Thera eruption, thought to have occurred in the 17 century BC.Positive identification and accurate dating of tephra in ice cores from this large Mediterranean eruption would provide a critical benchmark for early Middle Eastern history.