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 rintcal):

## Loading required package: rintcal

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
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).

rbacon is open-source software; you are free to use, copy, distribute and modify it, but please do read this tutorial, the help functions and accompanying paper before using the program. This software is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public Licence. rbacon does not come with any warranty and the authors do not assume any responsibility for the usefulness of any portion of this program. Do cite this program when modifying or using it, including its version, Blaauw and Christen (2011)[^1], applied settings and calibration curves used.

Parts of this software remain under construction. Details such as the default settings and behaviour could change between versions, so please check this manual for the latest information. You are most welcome to report bugs, ideas and missing features to Maarten, Marco or Andrés

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