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Probabilistic sequence alignment of stratigraphic records

  • Author(s): Lin, L
  • Khider, D
  • Lisiecki, LE
  • Lawrence, CE
  • et al.
Abstract

The assessment of age uncertainty in stratigraphically aligned records is a pressing need in paleoceanographic research. The alignment of ocean sediment cores is used to develop mutually consistent age models for climate proxies and is often based on the δ18O of calcite from benthic foraminifera, which records a global ice volume and deep water temperature signal. To date, δ18O alignment has been performed by manual, qualitative comparison or by deterministic algorithms. Here we present a hidden Markov model (HMM) probabilistic algorithm to find 95% confidence bands for δ18O alignment. This model considers the probability of every possible alignment based on its fit to the δ18O data and transition probabilities for sedimentation rate changes obtained from radiocarbon-based estimates for 37 cores. Uncertainty is assessed using a stochastic back trace recursion to sample alignments in exact proportion to their probability. We applied the algorithm to align 35 late Pleistocene records to a global benthic δ18O stack and found that the mean width of 95% confidence intervals varies between 3 and 23 kyr depending on the resolution and noisiness of the record's δ18O signal. Confidence bands within individual cores also vary greatly, ranging from ~0 to >40 kyr. These alignment uncertainty estimates will allow researchers to examine the robustness of their conclusions, including the statistical evaluation of lead-lag relationships between events observed in different cores. Key Points Hidden Markov model estimates uncertainty in benthic oxygen isotope alignmentsRadiocarbon-based estimates of sedimentation rate variabilityBayesian statistics: alignment confidence band, tests of lead-lag relationships

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