Revisiting secular variation as recorded in lake sediments and their application to British archaeomagnetic studies

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    Abstract

    Lake sediments can play an important role in understanding and reconstructing temporal characteristics of the geomagnetic field, as they potentially offer near continuous high-resolution archives of magnetic information extending throughout the Holocene. To date lake sediment geomagnetic data has typically been excluded from British archaeomagnetic secular variation curves (SVC) due to uncertainties with the acquisition of magnetisation by lake sediments. This paper presents the argument that, with regards to British datasets, the real problem lies with poor chronological control and sets out to illustrate that with British archaeomagnetic data some progress has been made. The results indicate that it is not currently possible to resolve secular variation on a time scale of ∼ 100 years from published British lake sediment data but more success has been made with data from archaeological sediments. This level of detail has been considered necessary for the incorporation of lake sediment data into the British archaeomagnetic dataset, as the ability to resolve short-term geomagnetic changes is critical for the integration of any dataset into the British SVC. As the latter is predominantly employed to date archaeological architecture and artefacts requires that it has the ability to resolve changes over timescales relevant to human lifetimes. Using currently available data this retrospective critique confirms that, in archaeological sediments, depositional and thermoremanent magnetisation can record the same direction over the same time interval. Highlights ► We consider the application of dating evidence to magnetic data from British lakes. ► We compare DRM and TRM data from archaeological sediments. ► We confirm these data record the same direction over the same time interval. ► Suggest the age profile is the largest source of error with lake sediment data. ► It should be feasible to combine lake and archaeological data in a SVC.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)85-97
    Number of pages12
    JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
    Issue number0
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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