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Open AccessArticle

Sedimentary Dosimetry for the Saradj-Chuko Grotto: A Cave in a Lava Tube in the North-Central Caucasus, Russia

1
Department of Chemistry, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267-2692, USA
2
RFK Science Research Institute, Glenwood Landing, NY 11547-0866, USA
3
ANO Laboratory of Prehistory, 199034 St. Petersburg, Russia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Methods Protoc. 2020, 3(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/mps3010020
Received: 26 November 2019 / Revised: 23 January 2020 / Accepted: 26 January 2020 / Published: 26 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Methods in Dating and Other Applications using Luminescence)
Karst caves host most European Paleolithic sites. Near the Eurasian-Arabian Plate convergence in the Caucasus’ Lower Chegem Formation, Saradj-Chuko Grotto (SCG), a lava tube, contains 16 geoarchaeologically distinct horizons yielding modern to laminar obsidian-rich Middle Paleolithic (MP) assemblages. Since electron spin resonance (ESR) can date MP teeth with 2–5% uncertainty, 40 sediment samples were analyzed by neutron activation analysis to measure volumetrically averaged sedimentary dose rates. SCG’s rhyolitic ignimbrite walls produce very acidic clay-rich conglomeratic silts that retain 16–24 wt% water today. In Layers 6A-6B, the most prolific MP layers, strongly decalcified bones hinder species identification, but large ungulates inhabited deciduous interglacial forests. Unlike in karst caves, most SCG’s layers had sedimentary U concentrations >4 ppm and Th, >12 ppm, but Layer 6B2 exceeded 20.8 ppm U, and Layer 7, >5 ppm Th. Such high concentrations emit dose rates averaging ~1.9–3.7 mGy/y, but locally up to 4.1–5.0 mGy/y. Within Layer 6, dose rate variations reflect bone occurrence, necessitating that several samples must be geochemically analyzed around each tooth to ensure age accuracy. Coupled with dentinal dose rates up to 3.7–4.5 mGy/y, SCG’s maximum datable ages likely averages ~500–800 ka. View Full-Text
Keywords: ESR dating; sedimentary dosimetry; Saradj-Chuko Grotto (SCG), Russia; lava tube; Middle Paleolithic ESR dating; sedimentary dosimetry; Saradj-Chuko Grotto (SCG), Russia; lava tube; Middle Paleolithic
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MDPI and ACS Style

Blackwell, B.A.B.; Kazi, M.F.; Huang, C.L.C.; Doronicheva, E.V.; Golovanova, L.V.; Doronichev, V.B.; Singh, I.K.C.; Blickstein, J.I.B. Sedimentary Dosimetry for the Saradj-Chuko Grotto: A Cave in a Lava Tube in the North-Central Caucasus, Russia. Methods Protoc. 2020, 3, 20. https://doi.org/10.3390/mps3010020

AMA Style

Blackwell BAB, Kazi MF, Huang CLC, Doronicheva EV, Golovanova LV, Doronichev VB, Singh IKC, Blickstein JIB. Sedimentary Dosimetry for the Saradj-Chuko Grotto: A Cave in a Lava Tube in the North-Central Caucasus, Russia. Methods and Protocols. 2020; 3(1):20. https://doi.org/10.3390/mps3010020

Chicago/Turabian Style

Blackwell, Bonnie A.B.; Kazi, Mehak F.; Huang, Clara L.C.; Doronicheva, Ekaterina V.; Golovanova, Liubov V.; Doronichev, Vladimir B.; Singh, Impreet K.C.; Blickstein, Joel I.B. 2020. "Sedimentary Dosimetry for the Saradj-Chuko Grotto: A Cave in a Lava Tube in the North-Central Caucasus, Russia" Methods Protoc. 3, no. 1: 20. https://doi.org/10.3390/mps3010020

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