Charcoal reflectance measurements: implications for structural characterization and assessment of diagenetic alteration

Ascough, Philippa L., Bird, Michael I., Scott, Andrew C., Collinson, Margaret E., Cohen-Ofri, Illit, Snape, Colin E., and Le Manquais, Katherine (2010) Charcoal reflectance measurements: implications for structural characterization and assessment of diagenetic alteration. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37 (7). pp. 1590-1599.

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Charcoal is a valuable source of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental proxy data. However growing evidence suggests that production conditions can strongly influence post-depositional alteration of charcoal. Consequently, both reconstruction of production temperature and understanding of the potential for diagenetic alteration are of great interest. Here, we use mean random reflectance (R0-mean) in conjunction with other chemical characterization methods to address these questions. R0-mean was obtained for a suite of modern analogue charcoal, produced under controlled conditions, and for a series of natural charcoal samples, obtained from archaeological and palaeoenvironmental deposits. R0-mean proves to be a robust measure to assess formation temperature for samples produced at 400 C and above, even after exposure to highly oxidizing conditions. R0-mean is also useful for samples formed between 300 C and 400 C. However, if an assemblage of charcoals has been exposed to oxidizing conditions, lower temperature charcoals may be preferentially lost. It is apparent that charcoal produced at lower temperatures is more highly susceptible to chemical oxidation, and that there is a continuum in charcoal degradation potential, dependant upon fuel material and production conditions.

Item ID: 11866
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-9238
Keywords: charcoal, reflectance, oxidative degradation, black carbon, diagenesis
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2010 23:51
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210102 Archaeological Science @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 100%
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