Investigation into background levels of small organic samples at the NERC Radiocarbon Laboratory

Ertunc, T., Xu, S., Bryant, C. L., Currie, M., Freeman, S. T. , Maden, C. and Murray, C. (2007) Investigation into background levels of small organic samples at the NERC Radiocarbon Laboratory. Radiocarbon, 49(2), pp. 271-280.

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Publisher's URL: https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/radiocarbon/article/view/2926

Abstract

Recent progress in preparation/combustion of submilligram organic samples at our laboratories is presented. Routine methods had to be modified/refined to achieve acceptable and consistent procedural blanks for organic samples smaller than 1000 g C. A description of the process leading to a modified combustion method for smaller organic samples is given in detail. In addition to analyzing different background materials, the influence of different chemical reagents on the overall radiocarbon background level was investigated, such as carbon contamination arising from copper oxide of different purities and from different suppliers. Using the modified combustion method, small amounts of background materials and known-age standard IAEA-C5 were individually combusted to CO2. Below 1000 g C, organic background levels follow an inverse mass dependency when combusted with the modified method, increasing from 0.13 0.05 pMC up to 1.20 0.04 pMC for 80 g C. Results for a given carbon mass were lower for combustion of etched Iceland spar calcite mineral, indicating that part of the observed background of bituminous coal was probably introduced by handling the material in atmosphere prior to combustion. Using the modified combustion method, the background-corrected activity of IAEA-C5 agreed to within 2 s of the consensus value of 23.05 pMC down to a sample mass of 55 g C.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Xu, Dr Sheng and Murray, Mr Callum and Freeman, Professor Stewart and Bryant, Dr Charlotte and Currie, Mrs Margaret and Ertunc, Dr Tanya
Authors: Ertunc, T., Xu, S., Bryant, C. L., Currie, M., Freeman, S. T., Maden, C., and Murray, C.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Radiocarbon
Publisher:University of Arizona
ISSN:0033-8222
ISSN (Online):1945-5755
Published Online:01 January 2007
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2007 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona
First Published:First published in Radiocarbon 49(2):271-280
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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