Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Brad E. Rosenheim, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amelia E. Shevenell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tim M. Conway, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John M. Jaeger, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christina R. Riesselman, Ph.D.


Last Glacial Maximum, radiocarbon, TEX86, Ramped PyrOx


In order to determine the timing of Antarctic ice sheet retreat and advance during the Late Quaternary, various tools are used to measure the age of marginal marine sediments. Carbonate 14C dating is a well-established approach, but requires foraminiferal microfossils, shells or other carbonate materials that are rare in most Antarctic regions, and may also suffer from vital effects, which can result in variability of up to 500 years in living organisms. Bulk acid insoluble organic (AIO) 14C dates are frequently as an alternative, but this approach works best where high productivity and sedimentation rates reign, and not too well in condensed sequences where high proportions of detritus are present. Compound specific dating methods have also been employed, but these may still yield an average age from a mixture of components and require very large sample sizes. Alternate methods of applying a chronology have also been used, such as magnetic intensity dating, or regional correlation with well-dated cores, but these may not always provide accurate and precise dates. Here I present work, some published with co-authors, of progressive improvements of Ramped PyrOx 14C dating, which utilizes the thermochemical degradation of components within a bulk AIO sediment sample. This dissertation focuses on the study, improvement and application of advanced Ramped PyrOx techniques. These improvements include novel techniques, such as compositing and isotope dilution that I use to date sediments where the proportion of contemporaneously deposited carbon is very small relative to other detrital components, and maximize the accuracy of resulting dates while minimizing costs in precision from utilizing ultra-small fractions of the bulk sample. Ramped PyrOx 14C dating techniques allows us to generate chronologies for cores that would otherwise go undated. Furthermore, these techniques can be used to push the limits of radiocarbon dating not only to regions where accurate core chronologies have been difficult to come by, but also further back in time, into marine sediment horizons deposited at or before the last glacial maximum (LGM), where highly detrital material has precluded radiocarbon dating in the past. Wider use of these techniques can enable more coordinated a priori coring efforts to constrain regional glacial responses to rapid warming.