Why do we need 14C inter-comparisons?: The Glasgow 14C inter-comparison series, a reflection over 30 years

Scott, E. M. , Naysmith, P. and Cook, G. T. (2018) Why do we need 14C inter-comparisons?: The Glasgow 14C inter-comparison series, a reflection over 30 years. Quaternary Geochronology, 43, pp. 72-82. (doi:10.1016/j.quageo.2017.08.001)

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Abstract

Radiocarbon measurement is a well-established, routinely used, yet complex series of inter-linked procedures. The degree of sample pre-treatment varies considerably depending on the material, the methods of processing pre-treated material vary across laboratories and the detection of 14C at low levels remains challenging. As in any complex measurement process, the questions of quality assurance and quality control become paramount, both internally, i.e. within a laboratory and externally, across laboratories. The issue of comparability of measurements (and thus bias, accuracy and precision of measurement) from the diverse laboratories is one that has been the focus of considerable attention for some time, both within the 14C community and the wider user communities. In the early years of the technique when there was only a small number of laboratories in existence, inter-comparisons would function on an ad hoc basis, usually involving small numbers of laboratories (e.g.Otlet et al, 1980). However, as more laboratories were set-up and the detection methods were further developed (e.g. new AMS facilities), the need for more systematic work was recognised. The international efforts to create a global calibration curve also requires the use of data generated by different laboratories at different times, so that evidence of laboratory offsets is needed to inform curve formation. As a result of these factors, but also as part of general good laboratory practice, including laboratory benchmarking and quality assurance, the 14C community has undertaken a wide-scale, far-reaching and evolving programme of global inter-comparisons, to the benefit of laboratories and users alike. This paper looks at some of that history and considers what has been achieved in the past 30 years.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The extensive programmes of work have been funded from a number of sources including UK research councils (EPSRC and NERC), EU (FP4), NATO, Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cook, Professor Gordon and Naysmith, Mr Philip and Scott, Professor E Marian
Authors: Scott, E. M., Naysmith, P., and Cook, G. T.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Mathematics and Statistics > Statistics
College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Quaternary Geochronology
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1871-1014
ISSN (Online):1878-0350
Published Online:05 August 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V.
First Published:First published in Quaternary Geochronology 43: 72-82
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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