• An Extraction System to Measure Carbon-14 Terrestrial Ages of Meteorites with a Tandetron AMS at Nagoya University

      Minami, Masayo; Nakamura, Toshio (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      We have constructed a system to extract carbon from meteorites using a vacuum-tight RF melting method in order to study radiocarbon activities in meteorites. The extraction system was examined using iron standards of known carbon content. The carbon extraction efficiencies and 14C ages of the iron standards by this method were compared with the results obtained previously by our older melting system and a wet oxidation method. Higher collection efficiencies of about 90% for the iron samples of relatively high carbon content were achieved by the new system. The efficiency of extracting a small amount of carbon is also near 90% after improving the extraction procedure. The 14C ages of the iron standards were compared to the ages by the wet method. The results indicate that contamination by modern carbon is negligible in the system. Furthermore, terrestrial 14C ages of two Antarctic meteorites, Y-75102 and ALH-77294, from the Yamato and Allan Hills ice fields, respectively, were determined. The age of Y-75102 is estimated 4.0 +/1.0 ka, and the age of ALH-77294 is 19.5 +/1.2 ka. The 14C ages on the meteorites roughly agree with the literature value. However, further study is needed in improvement on reducing a background value and of complete fusion of a meteorite in the extraction system.
    • Preparation of Graphite Targets in the Gliwice Radiocarbon Laboratory for AMS 14C Dating

      Czernik, Justyna; Goslar, Tomasz (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      A line for preparation of graphite targets for accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating has been built in the Gliwice 14C Laboratory. The AMS 14C measurements of our targets are performed in the Leibniz-Labor fur Altersbestimmung, Kiel, Germany. The quality of our line has been tested in two series of AMS 14C measurements of background and Ox-II standard samples and by measurements of the amount of CO2 released during combustion of sample-free quartz tubes. Most background contamination in the first series was introduced during combustion, which has been greatly reduced by baking quartz tubes vacuum-sealed with CuO and Ag. The residual contamination (ca. 1.5 micrograms C) seems to come mostly from the quartz tubes themselves. At present, most of the contamination of the background is introduced during graphitization. The reproducibility of background preparations is satisfactory, especially for samples larger than 1.5 mg, when it is better than +/0.09 pMC. Despite still significant contamination with low-14C carbon during the graphitization process (corresponding to 1.2 +/0.2% of 14C-free carbon), the good reproducibility of the results allows us to use our line in routine 14C dating.
    • Protocol Development for Purification and Characterization of Sub-Fossil Insect Chitin for Stable Isotopic Analysis and Radiocarbon Dating

      Hodgins, Gregory W. L.; Thorpe, J. L.; Coope, G. R.; Hedges, Robert E. M. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      Reliable radiocarbon dating depends upon well-defined samples. We have been investigating whether or not reliable 14C dates can be obtained directly from sub-fossil insect cuticle or biochemical fractions derived from it. Initial carbon and nitrogen stable isotope measurements on sub-fossil insect chitin from species with known feeding behaviors found within a single site (St Bees, Cumbria) clustered in a manner reminiscent of trophic level effects seen in terrestrial ecosystems. Although this finding implied some chemical stability, the measurement of CN ratios from the same samples indicated compositional variability. In addition, 14C dates obtained from these same samples were different from dates obtained from plant macrofossils found at the same depth. We have experimented with protocols designed to biochemically reduce chitin to its principle carbohydrate component glucosamine with the aim of using this compound to generate reliable 14C dates. Solvent extractions of sub-fossil chitin were carried out to remove both endogenous and exogenous lipid-soluble materials. Base hydrolysis reactions designed to extract polypeptides retained surprisingly high levels of contaminating amino acids. Proteinase K enzyme treatment had little affect on the level of amino acid contamination. Strong acid hydrolysis reactions designed to depolymerize chitin to glucosamine yielded only 5% glucosamine. Clearly alternative methods of chitin depolymerization must be identified before the purification and 14C dating of glucosamine from sub-fossil chitin becomes practical.
    • Radiocarbon Dating of Wood Using Different Pretreatment Procedures: Application to the Chronology of Rotoehu Ash, New Zealand

      Santos, Guaciara M.; Bird, M. I.; Fifield, L. Keith; Alloway, B. V.; Chappell, J.; Hausladen, P. A.; Arneth, A. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      We compare radiocarbon accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) ages of wood samples subjected to a conventional acid-base-acid pretreatment with stepped combustion (ABA-SC) with results from the same samples subjected to an acid-base-wet oxidation pretreatment with stepped combustion (ABOX-SC) and cellulose extraction with stepped combustion (CE-SC). The ABOX-SC procedure has been shown previously to lead to lower backgrounds for old charcoal samples. Analyses of relatively uncontaminated " 14C-dead" samples of wood suggest that backgrounds of 0.11 +/0.04 pMC are obtainable for both the ABOX-SC and ABA-SC procedures. Where wood is significantly contaminated the ABOX-SC technique provides significantly better decontamination than either the ABA-SC technique or cellulose extraction alone, although CE-SC can produce comparably low backgrounds to the ABOX-SC procedure. We also report the application of the ABOX-SC, ABA-SC and CE-SC procedures to wood samples associated with the chronologically controversial Rotoehu Ash eruption, New Zealand. New 14C-AMS dates from wood sampled from below the Rotoehu Ash span an age range of 43-50 ka BP consistent with recently presented OSL dates of 42-44 ka obtained for palaeosols beneath the ash.
    • Sample Preparation of Dissolved Organic Carbon in Groundwater for AMS 14C Analysis

      Burr, George S.; Thomas, J. M.; Reines, D.; Jeffrey, D.; Courtney, C.; Jull, A. J. Timothy; Lange, Todd (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      This study describes a sample preparation technique used to isolate dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in groundwater for radiocarbon analysis using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). The goal of the work is to improve our ability to determine groundwater residence times based on 14C measurements of the DOC fraction in groundwater. Water samples were collected from carbonate and volcanic rock aquifers in southern Nevada. Multiple measurements of total dissolved organic carbon (TDOC) in groundwater from one site are used to demonstrate the reproducibility of the analytical procedure. The reproducibility of the method is about one percent (1sigma) for a 0.5 mg sample. The procedural blank for the same size sample contains about 1 percent modern carbon (pMC).
    • The Future of the Past

      Hedges, Robert E. M. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)