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Controls on 13C and 14C variability in soil CO2
14C dating of groundwater depends on the isotopic composition of both the solid carbonate and the soil CO2 and requires the use of 14C age correction models. To better assess the variability of the 14C activity of soil CO2 (A14Csoil-CO2) and the δ13C of soil CO2 (δ13Csoil-CO2), which are two parameters used in 14C age correction models, we studied the different processes involving carbon isotopes in the soil. The approach used experimental data from two sites in France (Fontainebleau sands and Astian sands) and a steady-state transport model. In most cases, the 14C activity (A14C) of atmospheric CO2 is directly used in the 14C age correction models as the A14Csoil-CO2. However, we demonstrate that since 1950, the evolution of the A14Csoil-CO2 reflects the competition between the fluxes of root-derived CO2 and organic matter-derived CO2. Therefore, the A14Csoil-CO2 must be used to date groundwater that is younger than 60 years old. Moreover, the δ13C of soil CO2 (δ13Csoil-CO2) showed large seasonal variations that must be taken into account in selecting the δ13Csoil-CO2 for 14C age correction models.
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