Radiocarbon dating sample preparation

Approximate sample sizes required for the AMS Please contact us before sending these samples.* Sample size of dry peat; more material is required if the mineral content is high or the peat is decomposed. The precision of radiocarbon dates for recent samples (younger than 2000 years) of “normal” sample size (1-2 mg of carbon) is better than 0.5% (typically 0.3 - 0.4%) which equals /-40 years (25 - 30 years) for the 1-σ statistical uncertainty of the measured age.All samples submitted for dating must be accompanied by a sample description form.

Radiocarbon dating is based on the property that the activity concentration of 14C in dead tissues can be used to calculate the time that has elapsed since death occurred. More details Reporting time At present (March 2017) it takes ca 2-3 months (excluding periods when the laboratory is closed for holidays) from the arrival of a sample until we report the result to the customer.

Researchers from other fields or submitters with fewer than ten samples are encouraged to contact other AMS facilities or commercial dating services: small batches or samples from other fields will be run by special arrangement only.

Contact information for other laboratories can be found at the Radiocarbon journal web site, at

AMS, on the other hand, can in principle detect a much higher proportion (typically about 1% of the total) allowing sample sizes to be smaller by a factor of about a thousand.

The method is relatively new because it needs very complicated instruments first developed for Nuclear Physics research in the late 20th century.

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To send samples to Keck-CCAMS at the UC Irvine for analysis, the following steps are required: Submitters, and in particular those making their first application, must make contact with the laboratory to discuss their requirements prior to actually submitting samples. A submission form plus a sample list provided must be filled out (see guidance document) for each group of samples submitted and sent to us via mail, fax or e-mail.

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