Getting started with rbacon

Bacon is an age-depth modelling tool which divides a sediment core up into equally-sized sections of (by default) 5 cm thickness, and assumes a linear accumulation within each section. Accumulation rates can change between the sections, and this variability is constrained by prior information (see below). Bacon can use radiocarbon dates (calibrating them as it runs) or dates that are already on the calendar scale.

Bacon works through R (or Rstudio), and requires a recent version of R (at least 4.0.1). The first time you are using Bacon on your computer, you will have to install its R package, by typing within the terminal of R:


To use rbacon, first the package has to be loaded (this will also load its companion package IntCal):

## Loading required package: IntCal

The package comes with two pre-loaded datasets, MSB2K and RLGH3. Start by running the default core, MSB2K. Note R’s comments about where the files are going to be placed, as we will need this information later. Press ‘y’ and/or Enter to accept any suggestions.


Bacon will calibrate any C-14 dates, do the MCMC run, calculate age ranges, produce graphs and provide information about the confidence ranges. The output graph, below, contains a number of panels containing important information (so please don’t cut them out for your publications):

Bacon output plot

Besides the graph, Bacon also produces files containing age estimates (95% ranges and the mean) for each depth (by default every cm from the top to the bottom core depth). This file can be found in the core’s folder (see here).

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