A reliable radiocarbon date begins with a carefully selected sample. Before submitting to the lab, users should carefully remove any physical contaminates not intended to be dated (i.e. removing rocks and rootlets with tweezers, separating charcoal fragments from soils, picking forams from bulk sediment). This is followed by subsampling the best segment of material to date (i.e. selecting hard non-spongy bone, isolating macrofossils, separation of surface vs. benthic foram species, etc.)
Please only send the portion of material you wish to have dated.
If your samples have been treated with conservation products (e.g. shellac, glue, oil), it is best to send a subsample from an uncontaminated area. If this is not possible, please consult with our staff before submission. In addition, describe the nature of the conservation treatment on the submission form.
Chemical pre-treatment is performed in our lab, accompanied by QA/QC processing standards and blanks, and will vary depending on the type of sample and the depositional environment from which it came.
Following any required pre-treatment, all solid samples are converted to purified CO2 (typically via Elemental Analyzer for organics or acid hydrolysis for inorganics) and graphite for AMS measurement (included in the unit cost for each material code described below).
Below is a list of commonly dated materials (and material codes), the pre-treatment the samples will undergo prior to radiocarbon dating and the factors that should be taken into account when selecting material.