Radiocarbon — Instrumentation and materials


Materials we analyse include:

  • Waters – Dissolved organic carbon (DOC): 14C of fresh waters
  • Waters – Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC): 14C of fresh and marine waters
  • Waters – Particulate organic carbon (POC): 14C of fresh and marine waters
  • Carbonates: 14C of microfossils, other pure calcium carbonates, and impure carbonates (all organic and inorganic), corals, speleothems
  • Organic materials: 14C of all bulk and species-specific organic materials (plant remains, soils, etc.) from terrestrial, marine and freshwater environments
  • Organic materials: 14C of specialist materials (e.g. pollen concentrates, organic concentrates)
  • Organic materials: 14C of specific biological remains: Bone, antler (via collagen extraction), Teeth, Ivory, skin/ leather, flesh, hair, fur, cremated bone, insect remains, Soil mesofauna
  • Organic materials: 14C of paper (i.e. cellulose), wood cellulose, Silk, wool, textiles (cotton, linen)
  • Atmospheric particulates: 14C of elemental and organic carbon
  • Gases: 14C of CO2 and Methane from natural and anthropogenic sources (subject to abundance), including gases evolved from soil and water surfaces (bespoke sampling equipment can be constructed on a project-specific basis)


Instruments we use include:

  • Costech Elemental analyser for online combustion of solid samples to CO2 for cryogenic purification
  • Delta V Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer for analysis of 13C/12C by dual inlet for correction of measured sample 14C/13C
  • EGM-5 portable CO2 monitor (for field and lab measurement of gas abundance supporting 14C measurement)
  • Strata Hydropyrolysis unit for separation of pyrogenic (black) carbon in solids and waters for 14C and quantification (i.e. BC/OC%)
  • Purpose build ramped oxidation equipment for separation of sample components for 14C measurement on the basis of thermal stability (collection on xeolite molecular sieves)
  • A 5 MV NEC tandem Accelerator Mass Spectrometer, a 250 KV NEC Single-Stage Accelerator Mass Spectrometer, a MICADAS system, all for measurement of sample 14C/12C (and/or 14C/13C) ratios