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Method for Exact Dating of Finds in Arctic Underground Ice
June 16, 2017 14:50

According to the professor of Moscow State University Yuri Vasilchuk, the new technology will be useful to archaeologists, paleobiologists and even house builders.
Scientists from the Moscow State University (MSU) have developed a methodology that enables to exactly date objects frozen in the underground ice of the Arctic. As Professor Yuri Vasilchuk from the Moscow State University explains, the technology has been designed for archaeologists, experts in the field of construction in the permafrost and paleobiologists involved in the study of the DNA evolution.
"Due to the fact that underground ice and rocks are generated gradually, the organics with an age difference of 5-10 thousand years freeze in the same layer. In order to extract the most reliable radiocarbon dating, we have invented such a method: we compare all the organic material - branches, bones, grass, and moss – found in one and the same layer of permafrost. In the stratum that was formed 25 thousand years ago, datings of 20, 30, and even 40 thousand years were obtained. We assumed that the youngest dating will prove to be the most reliable, compared them at different heights, and they fit into chronological order quite well,"- Yuri Vasilchuk said.
He added that "to test the method, a serious study was required: each sample of organic material was separated into micro samples and their age was measured."
According to the professor, usually experts beware of the samples’ "rejuvenation" - if they get modern organic particles in, the age will be reduced immediately. The same thing happens in the case of underground ice – organic matter is also mixed, but over thousands of years, and the fact makes it difficult to establish the age.
More accurate dating of organic matter frozen in Arctic ice is useful to various branches of science, the scientist emphasized.
"This enhanced method will be useful to archeologists studying the sites of early men in the North, to paleobiologists researching the DNA evolution and builders of houses in permafrost - in order to predict more accurately the spread of ice clusters,"
he said.
Underground Safe Deposit of Climate Data
Underground ice does not merely store organic matter - it provides information about the ancient climate, scientists point out.
"The oxygen isotopes in ancient ice veins have been stable for hundreds of thousands of years. I managed to find a relationship between the air temperature and the composition of oxygen isotopes in ice veins. The number of heavy oxygen isotopes turned out to be numerically equal to the average winter air temperature in the region. To test the hypothesis, I traveled throughout the North and insistently looked for ice veins - it nearly turned into a sport, "-
Yuri Vasilchuk told.
Ice veins are formed in cracks, which are generated in the ground under low temperatures. Their wedges can reach a width of 3-4 meters. Multilayered systems of ice veins in frozen rocks reach a height of 50 meters, the scientist informs. The geography of the largest strata is vast, covering Duvanny Yar and the Green Cape in Yakutia, Seyakha on the Yamal Peninsula, and the Mein River valley in Chukotka.
The common feature of most of the ice strands penetrated by ice veins is the same time range of formation. Thickets with thick veins generated in these regions for the period from 40 to 10 thousand years.
The results of the research are published in the international journal GeoResJ.


Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Arctic     

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