Radiocarbon Age Determinations
From plants, 14C passes up the food chain to other...
From plants, 14C passes up the food chain to other organisms which will then assimilate into their structure 14C of equal proportion to that of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Once an organism dies, it ceases to participate in the flow of 14C from the atmosphere and the 14C in its structure is gradually lost by radioactive disintegration back to 14N. By measuring the amount of 14C in samples of ancient carbon compounds and comparing this with the amount in modern materials, it is possible to determine the time of cessation of carbon exchange with the atmosphere.
The radiocarbon lab at Geochron uses gas proportional counters to measure methane derived from relatively small samples. We also offer liquid scintillation analysis using an extra low background Quantulus 1220 for high precision measurements on benzene. Very small samples (less than 300 mg) are analyzed by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). We have subcontractor agreements with several AMS facilities around the world.
Materials suitable for radiocarbon dating include charcoal, wood and other plant matter, soils and sediments, shells, bone, carbonates, dissolved inorganic carbonate (DIC), methane and hydrocarbons, and food products. A table of optimum and minimum sample sizes is provided below. Please feel free to contact our lab staff to discuss the specific details of your samples.
Normal handling will not contaminate most sample types, however, samples should be protected from sources of extraneous carbon. Charcoal and wood samples should be wrapped in aluminum foil or heavy plastic and should not be wrapped in paper.
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