Integrating timescales with time-transfer functions: a practical approach for an INTIMATE database

Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Paul Albert, Simon Blockley, Mark Hardiman, Christine Lane, Alison MacLeod, Ian Matthews, Raimund Muscheler, Adrian Palmer, Richard Staff

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The purpose of the INTIMATE project is to integrate palaeo-climate information from terrestrial, ice and marine records so that the timing of environmental response to climate forcing can be compared in both space and time. One of the key difficulties in doing this is the range of different methods of dating that can be used across different disciplines. For this reason, one of the main outputs of INTIMATE has been to use an event-stratigraphic approach which enables researchers to co-register synchronous events (such as the deposition of tephra from major volcanic eruptions) in different archives (Blockley et al., 2012). However, this only partly solves the problem, because it gives information only at particular short intervals where such information is present. Between these points the ability to compare different records is necessarily less precise chronologically. What is needed therefore is a way to quantify the uncertainties in the correlations between different records, even if they are dated by different methods, and make maximum use of the information available that links different records.
This paper outlines the design of a database that is intended to provide integration of timescales and associated environmental proxy information. The database allows for the fact that all timescales have their own limitations, which should be quantified in terms of the uncertainties quoted. It also makes use of the fact that each timescale has strengths in terms of describing the data directly associated with it. For this reason the approach taken allows users to look at data on any timescale that can in some way be related to the data of interest, rather than specifying a specific timescale or timescales which should always be used. The information going into the database is primarily: proxy information (principally from sediments and ice cores) against depth, age-depth models against reference chronologies (typically IntCal or ice core), and time-transfer functions that relate different timescales to each other, through the use of event stratigraphies or global phenomena such as cosmogenic isotope production rate variations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Early online date20 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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