Articles | Volume 10, issue 5
Research article
03 Sep 2014
Research article |  | 03 Sep 2014

Dating a tropical ice core by time–frequency analysis of ion concentration depth profiles

M. Gay, M. De Angelis, and J.-L. Lacoume

Abstract. Ice core dating is a key parameter for the interpretation of the ice archives. However, the relationship between ice depth and ice age generally cannot be easily established and requires the combination of numerous investigations and/or modelling efforts. This paper presents a new approach to ice core dating based on time–frequency analysis of chemical profiles at a site where seasonal patterns may be significantly distorted by sporadic events of regional importance, specifically at the summit area of Nevado Illimani (6350 m a.s.l.), located in the eastern Bolivian Andes (16°37' S, 67°46' W). We used ion concentration depth profiles collected along a 100 m deep ice core. The results of Fourier time–frequency and wavelet transforms were first compared. Both methods were applied to a nitrate concentration depth profile. The resulting chronologies were checked by comparison with the multi-proxy year-by-year dating published by de Angelis et al. (2003) and with volcanic tie points. With this first experiment, we demonstrated the efficiency of Fourier time–frequency analysis when tracking the nitrate natural variability. In addition, we were able to show spectrum aliasing due to under-sampling below 70 m. In this article, we propose a method of de-aliasing which significantly improves the core dating in comparison with annual layer manual counting. Fourier time–frequency analysis was applied to concentration depth profiles of seven other ions, providing information on the suitability of each of them for the dating of tropical Andean ice cores.