• A Report on Phase 2 of the Fifth International Radiocarbon Intercomparison (VIRI)

      Scott, E. Marian; Cook, Gordon T.; Naysmith, Philip (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2010-01-01)
      The Fifth International Radiocarbon Intercomparison (VIRI) continues the tradition of the TIRI (third) and FIRI (fourth) (Scott 2003) intercomparisons and operates in addition to any within-laboratory quality assurance measures as an independent check on laboratory procedures. VIRI is a phased intercomparison; results for the first phase, which employed grain samples, were reported in Scott et al. (2007). The second phase, involving bone samples, is reported here. The third and final phase, which includes samples of peat, wood, and shell, has also been completed and a companion paper appears in these proceedings. Five bone samples were made available and included Sample E: mammoth bone (>5 half-lives); Sample F: horse bone (from Siberia, excavated in 2001; and Samples H and I: whale bones (approximately 2 half-lives). Sample G (human bone) was accessible only to accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) laboratories because of the limited amount of sample available. More than 40 laboratories participated in Phase 2 and consensus values for the ages were as follows: Sample E = 39,305 14C yr BP (standard deviation [1 sigma] = 121 yr); Sample F = 2513 yr BP (1 sigma = 5 yr); Sample G = 969 yr BP (1 sigma = 5 yr); Sample H = 9528 yr BP (1 sigma = 7 yr); and Sample I = 8331 yr BP (1 sigma = 6 yr). Sample G had previously been dated by 4 laboratories and a weighted mean of 934 +/- 12 yr BP had been quoted. Sample I had previously been dated at 8335 +/- 25 yr BP and Sample H had been dated at 9565 +/- 130 yr BP. Results for Sample H and Sample I are in good agreement with the previous results; Sample G results, however, give a value that is significantly older than the previously reported results.
    • The Fifth International Radiocarbon Intercomparison (VIRI): An Assessment of Laboratory Performance in Stage 3

      Scott, E. Marian; Cook, Gordon T.; Naysmith, Philip (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2010-01-01)
      Proficiency testing is a widely used, international procedure common within the analytical chemistry community. A proficiency trial (which VIRI is) often follows a standard protocol, including analysis that is typically based on zscores, with one key quantity, p. From a laboratory intercomparison (sometimes called a proficiency trial), we hope to gain an assessment of accuracy (in this case, from dendro-dated samples), laboratory precision (from any duplicate samples), and generally, an overall measure of performance, including measurement variability and hence realistic estimates of uncertainty. In addition, given our stated aim of creating an archive of reference materials, we also gain a determination of consensus values for new reference materials. VIRI samples have been chosen to deliver these objectives and the sample ages included in the different stages, by design, spanned modern to background. With regard to pretreatment, some samples required intensive pretreatment (e.g. bone), while others required none (e.g. cellulose and humic acid). Sample size was not optimized, and indeed some samples were provided solely for accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) measurement. In this sense, VIRI presented a more challenging exercise than previous intercomparisons, since by its design in stages, one can explore improvements (or deteriorations) over time in laboratory performance. At each stage, more than 50 laboratories have participated, with an increasing demographic shift towards more AMS and fewer radiometric laboratories.