Charcoal

Bird, M.I. (2013) Charcoal. In: Elias, Scott A., and Mock, Cary J., (eds.) Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science. Elsevier, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, pp. 353-360.

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Abstract

Charcoal, produced from the incomplete combustion of organic matter, is one of the materials most commonly used for radiocarbon dating. It is now recognized that charcoal forms part of a 'combustion continuum' from slightly charred macroscopic biomass through microscopic soot particles to individual molecular markers produced by burning. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal has contributed substantially to the development of the geochronological frameworks that underpin our understanding of the evolution of human societies and the natural environment over the last 50 000–60 000 years. Radiocarbon analysis is now also used to understand the sources and biogeochemical cycling of the products of burning in the natural environment. Accelerator mass spectrometry, with the capability to analyze milligram-sized samples, has opened up new possibilities across the full spectrum of the 'combustion continuum,' but all the components of this continuum pose problems in analysis, interpretation, and application – this article reviews the current state of knowledge in these areas.

Item ID: 31802
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-0-444-53642-6
Keywords: archaeology; biochar; black carbon; dating; geoarchaeology; geochronology; geomorphology; Holocene; human evolution; hydrogen pyrolysis; isotopes; Pleistocene; quaternary science; radiocarbon
Date Deposited: 13 May 2014 23:20
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040606 Quaternary Environments @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 100%
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