Articles | Volume 12, issue 2
Research article
23 Feb 2016
Research article |  | 23 Feb 2016

Geochronological database and classification system for age uncertainties in Neotropical pollen records

S. G. A. Flantua, M. Blaauw, and H. Hooghiemstra

Abstract. The newly updated inventory of palaeoecological research in Latin America offers an important overview of sites available for multi-proxy and multi-site purposes. From the collected literature supporting this inventory, we collected all available age model metadata to create a chronological database of 5116 control points (e.g. 14C, tephra, fission track, OSL, 210Pb) from 1097 pollen records. Based on this literature review, we present a summary of chronological dating and reporting in the Neotropics. Difficulties and recommendations for chronology reporting are discussed. Furthermore, for 234 pollen records in northwest South America, a classification system for age uncertainties is implemented based on chronologies generated with updated calibration curves. With these outcomes age models are produced for those sites without an existing chronology, alternative age models are provided for researchers interested in comparing the effects of different calibration curves and age–depth modelling software, and the importance of uncertainty assessments of chronologies is highlighted. Sample resolution and temporal uncertainty of ages are discussed for different time windows, focusing on events relevant for research on centennial- to millennial-scale climate variability. All age models and developed R scripts are publicly available through figshare, including a manual to use the scripts.

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Short summary
We present a review of chronological dating from ca. 1100 fossil pollen records in Central and South America. Additionally, a temporal quality assessment is implemented on 292 records from northwest South America, which include recalibrating 234 age models. This method evaluates uncertainties for inferred sample ages and chronologies. Important time windows on centennial-millennial climate variability are discussed for sample resolution (estimated years/sample) and temporal uncertainty.