The cores are unique: they display layers in the sediment for each year, giving scientists the means of counting back the years.
These counts are compared with over 800 radiocarbon dates from the preserved fossil leaves.
'It also allows us to look at the differences between the atmosphere and oceans, and study the implications for our understanding of the marine environment as part of the global carbon cycle.' _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ To construct a radiocarbon record from Lake Suigetsu, Professor Ramsey and his colleagues measured radiocarbon from terrestrial plant fragments spaced throughout the core.
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The research team extracted cores of beautifully preserved layers of sediment, containing organic material (such as tree leaf and twig fossils), from the bottom of the Japanese lake where they had lain undisturbed for tens of thousands of years.
As an article in the journal explains, the findings are hugely significant because they provide a much more precise way to examine radiocarbon ages of organic material for the entire 11,000-53,000-year time range.
Many of the layers were too fine to be distinguished by the naked eye, so the researchers used a microscope, as well as a method called X-ray fluorescence that identifies chemical changes along the core.