13.-15. September 2017 (2-day workshop and one-day hands-on practical), University of Bern

Radiocarbon dating of various environmental materials are widely applied and extremely valuable for reconstructing global (paleo)climate dynamics, anthropogenic environmental changes, ecosystem distributions, and hominin evolution. This workshop will discuss and focus on innovations and developments of radiocarbon analyses with the MIni-CArbon-DAting-System (MICADAS) and research advances that have been made owing to this system.

Scope of the conference

Switzerland has been playing a crucial role in advancing radiocarbon dating, also by developing a MICADAS within the last decades. This system allows radiocarbon analyses of ultra-small samples (>=2 µg C) that are smaller than those required for conventional (i.e. graphitization) methods by a factor of ~100. This permits to circumvent long persisting issues such as a poor preservation and/or reduced availability of carboniferous or carbonaceous material in climate archives, thereby opening unprecedented research avenues. With the installment of an MICADAS at the University of Bern, the Oeschger Center of Climate Change Research and the University of Bern takes an active part in pushing this innovation forward. This workshop will foster the scientific exchange and networking within the MICADAS community in Bern and the wider local area, in particular among early career scientists and experts from the analytical and application sides, in a relaxed and open atmosphere.

Format and Sessions

The workshop will focus on three sessions; each will include a keynote lecture by our invited expert. In addition, there will be solicited talks and a poster session dedicated to each session. Posters will be on display during the whole duration of the conference, allowing for ample time for discussion and scientific exchange.

Session 1: Technical developments and improvements of radiocarbon analyses

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Lukas Wacker (Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich)

This session invites contributions on all technical aspects, i.e., possibilities, challenges and limitations, of radiocarbon analyses, in particular with the MICADAS: updates to the AMS system, radiocarbon background and -contamination analyses, sample preparation methodology, choice of gas versus solid source and measurement strategies.

Session 2: Radiocarbon application for studying paleoclimatic/Holocene/anthropogenic changes and in numerical models

Keynote Speaker: Prof. Gesine Mollenhauer (Marine Geochemistry Division, Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven)

This session encourages contributions that highlight and discuss the wide range of applications of radiocarbon analyses in the (paleo-)environmental sciences, in particular for reconstructing the ocean carbon cycle, for determining transport pathways of carbon in various terrestrial systems, for environmental monitoring (air, seawater and sediments), for evolutionary and archaeological studies and for elucidating atmospheric dynamics.

Session 3: Establishing consistent and accurate chronologies for climate archives based on radiocarbon

Keynote Speaker: Fabian Rey (Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern)

This session invites contributions that discuss advances and challenges for establishing radiocarbon-based chronologies. These may address age reversals within the sedimentary record, the choice of atmospheric calibrations, strategies for dealing and reconstructing artifacts such as sediment mixing and -transport processes, statistical approaches and the determination of disequilibrium effects.

Practical on statistical approaches for 14C-based chronologies

A practical on statistical approaches for 14C-based chronologies will take place on the third day of the workshop, 15. September 2017. It will be led by Prof. Christopher Bronk Ramsey from the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford. He is also the director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit and the leading mind behind the OxCal programme. The practical is a unique opportunity to learn more about 14C age calibrations from a world-class expert. As participation in the practical is optional for the workshop participants, we ask all workshop attendees wanting to participate in the practical to express interest during the registration for the workshop.

Laboratory Tour

The workshop attendees are invited to take part in a tour of the MICADAS laboratory at the University of Bern, and are asked to express interest during the registration (for planning purposes).

Confirmed Invited Speakers


  • Dr. Lukas Wacker (Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich)
  • Prof. Gesine Mollenhauer (Marine Geochemistry Division, Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven)
  • Fabian Rey (Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern)

Solicited contributions:

  • Prof. Martin Grosjean (Institute of Geography, University of Bern),
  • Dr. Theo Jenk (Laboratory for Radiochemistry and Environmental Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institut)
  • Dr. Gary Salazar (Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Bern)
  • Mirco Brunner (Institute of Archaeological Sciences, University of Bern)


  • Abstract submission expired
  • Registration expired


We thank the Intermediate Staff Association (Mittelbauvereinigung) of the University of Bern and the Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research for financial and administrative support.