The 14C content of modern vegetation samples from the flanks of the Katla Volcano, southern Iceland

J. S. Shore, G. T. Cook, Andrew Dugmore

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Samples of living terrestrial plants comprising a moss (Calliergon sp.), Carex
spp. and Alchemilla spp. were collected from the surface of the mire at Engimyri in Myrdalur, southern Iceland, 10 km from the crater rim of the central complex of the Katla volcano. This area is 16 km from the fissures active in AD 1918 and was directly affected by the tephra fall. Although there is no hot-spring or fumerole activity in the area, sufficient volcanic activity during the weeks preceding sample collection produced a strong sulphurous odor in the streams. As part of a large-scale dating program, we analyzed the modern vegetation to determine whether anomalies caused by the uptake of "old" volcanic CO2 were apparent. The results showed 14C values for the Calliergon sp., Carex spp, andAlchemilla spp, of 113.2 ± 0.6 pMC, 113.03 ± 0.52 pMC and 113.10 ± 0.6 pMC, respectively. The S13CPDB
values were -28.7%o, -28.0% and -27.0%, respectively. Similar vegetation, i.e., terrestrial plants from a marsh environment in southern Scotland, were also analyzed as a comparison and gave 14C values of 113.16 ± 0.55 and 112.98 ± 0.59 pMC. The implication is that Icelandic vegetation at Engimyri is not affected by "old" carbon from volcanic emissions and dates obtained for this Icelandic peat are acceptable and directly comparable with Scottish Peat.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-529
Number of pages5
JournalRadiocarbon: An International Journal of Cosmogenic Isotope Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1995


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